Self-esteem change and diurnal cortisol secretion in older adulthood.

TitleSelf-esteem change and diurnal cortisol secretion in older adulthood.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLiu SY, Wrosch C, Miller GE, Pruessner JC
Date Published2014 Mar
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Circadian Rhythm, Depression, Female, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Saliva, Self Concept, Stress, Psychological

OBJECTIVE: Research suggests that self-esteem can decline in older adulthood. This process could remove a buffer that normally protects individuals against distress-related changes in cortisol secretion. We examined this possibility by testing whether change in self-esteem would predict alterations in cortisol secretion, particularly among older adults who reported high levels of depressive symptoms or perceived stress.METHODS: 147 older adults (aged 60+) completed three days of diurnal cortisol measurements at three different time points, namely every two years over a total period of four years. Measures of self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress were assessed at T1 and T2. Potential demographic and health-related confounds were measured at baseline (partnership status, SES, mortality risk index, and medication).RESULTS: Linear regression models indicated that a decline in self-esteem from T1 to T2 predicted elevated cortisol output (AUCG) from T2 to T3, F (1, 137)=8.09, β=-.25, R(2)=.05, p=.005. Interaction analyses revealed that this association was particularly strong among participants who experienced higher T1 or T2 levels of depressive symptoms or perceived stress, +1SD: βs=-.34 to -.51, ps<.001, but not significant among their counterparts who reported relatively lower levels of depressive symptoms or perceived stress, -1SD: βs=.03 to 11, ps>.43.CONCLUSIONS: Declines in self-esteem represent a mechanism that contributes to higher levels of diurnal cortisol secretion if older adults experience psychological distress. Increases in self-esteem, by contrast, can ameliorate older adults' cortisol regulation in stressful circumstances.

Alternate JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
PubMed ID24495612
Grant List / / Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Canada