I read an interesting article today on SF Gate. A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs looked at biological stress indicators of police academy recruits before and after traumatic events and discovered a connection between waking cortisol levels and more stressful reactions to trauma:
The study found that recruits with a higher “cortisol awakening response” — or a higher level of cortisol after waking up — tended to have stronger reactions to stress shortly after a traumatic event. The reactions — including intrusive memories, increased heart rate and breathing as well as conscious avoidance of the event — are all symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, except in a shorter time frame.
Researchers expect this information can be used to better understand the different levels of vulnerability to stress and trauma as well as to treat and prevent stress disorders.
Read the full article by Victoria Colliver on SFGate.com: Traumatic Stress Linked to Biological Indicator