Psychosocial stress is a reaction to a real or interpreted threat to the integrity of an individual that manifests itself by biochemical, physiological, cognitive and behavioral changes. We assessed cognitive appraisal and psychophysiological responses during a standardized psychosocial stress procedure, the Trier Social Stress Task (TSST). The investigation of different factors regarding cognitive processing and psychophysiological stress response provide evidence that:
- maladaptive personality traits are important factors in understanding the relationships between fundamental personality characteristics and cognitive processing during acute psychosocial stress, in both women with and without personality disorder;
- the physiological response to acute psychosocial stress differs between groups with distinct personality psychopathology whereas the subjective mood disturbance response does not;
- distinct hormonal contraceptive methods have contrasting effects on physiological reactivity to acute psychosocial stress in healthy women

While these explorations add important clues towards a more comprehensive understanding and coherent picture of stress induced sensitivity in women, it is apparent that sex hormones play an important role, and interact with a variety of factors, including fundamental personality traits, personality pathology, genetic factors, and environmental influences, to regulate physiological reactivity and adaptation to stress, and thereby women’s individual well-being.

Psychosocial stress, Hormonal contraception, Cortisol, Heart rate, Personality Psychopathology
S.A. Kushner (Steven) , J.H.M. Tulen (Joke) , C.G. Kooiman (Cornelis)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Psychiatry

Aleknavičiūtė, J. (2017, March 15). Psychological and Neuroendocrine Determinants of Stress Regulation in Women. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from