Abstract and Keywords
Neuroendocrine systems play a critical role in modulating biological, cognitive, and affective responses to stress. Not surprisingly, variability in neuroendocrine functioning, and particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, has been extensively linked to stress-related mental health disorders. This chapter examines the potential mechanisms that underlie this link and the conceptual challenges that must be addressed in order to advance a more cohesive neuroendocrine model of stress-related psychopathology. To this end, the chapter first explores the various sources of variability in neuroendocrine responses to stress, including individual differences in neural networks and neuroendocrine systems, as well as contextual factors, such as characteristics of the stressors and personality traits. The chapter then examines potential proximal and distal mechanisms that link variability in neuroendocrine functioning to the risk for onset, phenomenology, and course of stress-related disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.
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