A study has found an impaired secretion of a stress hormone in healthy young Indigenous people. Their biological stress response is directly linked to the racial discrimination that they experience in their lives. The study could open up new opportunities to predict mental health problems in First Nation’s people. The goal is a positive one.
- James Cook University scientists have made a disturbing finding about some young Indigenous people’s biological reaction to stress, but one that could help close the health gap for indigenous people.
- In their study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team showed for the first time that the biologically important ‘morning rise’ of cortisol that prepares us to effectively deal with the daily hassles and stresses of life is missing in otherwise healthy Indigenous young adults.
- The absence of the morning cortisol rise was related to the levels of chronic stress the participants had experienced. Patients with common and severe mental disorders, including depression and psychotic disorders, similarly are missing such a morning rise.
“Importantly, says Dr Maximus Berger, the first author of the study, there is evidence that the missing morning rise of cortisol indicates a risk for poor mental health in the future.”