Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge

Psychobiology of Stress

The research group “Psychobiology of Stress” focuses on the biological underpinnings of mental disorders related to the stress hormone system. Among others, methods for assessing long-term stress hormone concentrations (hair steroid analyses), stress hormone analyses in saliva, and experimental stress induction paradigms (Trier Social Stress Test) are used. In addition to investigating the role of stress-associated biomarkers in the development and maintenance of mental illnesses (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder), their potential as predictors and correlates of successful psychotherapy is being studied. The research results thus create an important basis for the future improvement of personalized treatment options.

Work group leader “Psychobiology of Stress

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Dr. rer. nat. Susann Schmiedgen

Licenced Psychotherapist (CBT)

 +49 351 458-15864

  Publications

Susann Schmiedgen (née Steudte) completed her PhD at the Chair of Biopsychology in Dresden after studying psychology. She then spent her post-doctoral period in Dresden as well as at Oxford University in England. In recent years, she has been intensively involved in the development of hair steroid analysis for the detection of long-term stress hormones and its application in the study of the biological underpinnings of mental disorders. Her main scientific interest is the role of cognitive and endocrine markers in the development and maintenance of trauma-related psychopathology and as predictors and correlates of symptom improvement after psychotherapy. Her research activities have been awarded, among others, the Commerzbank Prize (2014) and the Research award from the Falk von Reichenbach Foundation of the German Society for Psychotraumatology (2018).


Studies

The main study DREAM:

Launched in June 2017, the multi-method Dresden Study on Parenting, Work, and Mental Health (DREAM) explores the prospective relationship between parenthood, work, and health of the whole family and includes a total of N = 3,861 (expectant) parents. The study design provides a unique opportunity to explore longitudinal biological pathways underlying the effects of parental stress around pregnancy and birth on child development.

Biological sub-study DREAMHAIR

In our sub-study DREAMHAIR, we are interested in how the body’s stress hormone system responds to the specific challenges during pregnancy and after birth. Further, we are interested in the consequences this may have for the well-being of all family members. Hair analysis represents an innovative method to measure long‑term stress hormone release (e.g., cortisol). Cortisol is an essential endogenous stress hormone enabling us to adapt to stressful situations. Hair retains cortisol, which only grows out slowly. Initial studies indicate this process already takes place in the womb. In other words, maternal stress load will probably be reflected in the baby’s hair cortisol even before the baby is exposed to external influences.

The aim of DREAMHAIR is to investigate the concentration of various stress hormones in the hair of mother, father, and child at five measurement points up to 4.5 years postpartum and examine which external factors exert an influence on this concentration. In the future, this could enable us to objectify family stress factors and derive preventive measures that are specifically adapted to the needs of young families.

DREAMHAIR is a project in cooperation with:

  • Prof. Dr. Susan Garthus-Niegel (Research area Public Mental Health at the Institute and Policlinic for Occupational and Social Medicine at the TU Dresden)
  • Prof. Dr. Clemens Kirschbaum (Professor of Biopsychology, Faculty of Psychology at TU Dresden) 

Biological sub-study DREAMEPI

In our substudy DREAMEPI we are interested in the child’s epigenome. The entire “blueprint” for our body is stored in our genes (at the level of our genetic material, the so-called DNA). Whether and in what form this information is read depends, among other things, on so-called epigenetic mechanisms, which can silence or activate genes. Previous research shows that several environmental influences during the time in the womb and shortly after birth can impact the offspring’s epigenome. For this reason, the substudy DREAMEPI investigates the extent to which parental general and work-related stress as well as trauma exposure before and after birth is associated with childhood epigenetic changes and to what extent these changes influence the child’s health.

For this purpose, parents from DREAM and their 4.5-year-old children take part in a test in our study laboratory. The collection of children’s saliva samples enables the detection of changes in the epigenome. Furthermore, saliva and hair samples are taken to determine stress-associated biomarkers (e.g., cortisol) and questionnaires are completed to collect information regarding psychological symptoms and general health.

The aim of the DFG-funded DREAMEPI substudy is to better understand the molecular pathways underlying the fetal origins of health and disease, which could contribute to the development of evidence-based prevention strategies in the long-term.

In the DREAMEPI project the following researchers are cooperation partners:

  • Prof. Dr. Susan Garthus-Niegel (Forschungsbereich Public Mental Health am Institut und Poliklinik für Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin an der TU Dresden)
  • Prof. Dr. Nina Alexander (Professur für Translationale Psychiatrie am Fachbereich Medizin der Philipps-Universität Marburg)

funded by:  

Team

Wissenschaftler*innen


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Marlene Karl, M. Sc. Psych. 

Marlene Karl studied psychology in Dresden and Canada and completed her master’s degree in clinical psychology and psychotherapy with her master’s thesis in the DREAM project on the influence of work factors on symptoms of postpartum depression. Since then, she has been supporting the DREAMHAIR project as part of her PhD, for which she has received a scholarship (Sächsisches Landesstipendium) since 2019.
Publications


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Luisa Bergunde, M. Sc. Psych.

Luisa Bergunde studied psychology at the University of St Andrews and at the Technical University of Dresden. She completed her master's degree with a focus on clinical psychology and psychotherapy with her master's thesis in the DREAMHAIRproject on the role of endocannabinoids in postpartum mental health. Since then, she has been supporting the project as part of her PhD, for which she received a scholarship (Sächsisches Landesstipendium) since 2021. 
Publications


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Isabel Jaramillo, M. Sc. Psych.

Isabel Jaramillo studied Psychology: Cognitive Affective Neuroscience at the TU Dresden. Enthusiastic about the biopsychology of stress and the field of peripartum health, she investigated the relationship between birth experience, glucocorticoids, and postpartum depression in her master’s thesis within DREAMHAIR. She joined the DREAMEPI project as a research associate and PhD student in May 2022.
Publications


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Dipl.-Psych. Anke Förster

Anke Förster studied psychology at the Technical University of Dresden. She received her license in 2013, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy. She also completed a degree as a schema therapist. Since 2015, she has been working as a psychotherapist in the mother-child day clinic. She supports the DREAM project as part of her doctoral studies, researching the role of hair cortisol as a possible biological marker of transgenerational transmission.



Further team members:

Master´s students, medical doctorial students, and student assistants: 

Miriam Bormeister, B. Sc.
­­­­­­­­– Master student
Elisa Meißner, B. Sc. ­­­­­­­­– Master student
Jonathan Mamo-Wilhelmy, ­­­­­­­­B. Sc. – Master student
Emily Wilzer – Student assistant
Flora Hähnel – Student assistant
Elena Wulf – Medical doctorial student
Leonie Stumpf – Medical doctorial student


Former team members:

Sarah Schälicke, M. Sc. Psych.
Vanessa Huth, M. Sc. Psych.
Corinna Müller-Stark, M. Sc. Psych.
Clara Wöhl, M. Sc. Psych.

Publications

Karl, M.*, Huth, V.*, Schälicke, S., Müller-Stark, C., Weise, V., Mack, J. T., Kirschbaum, C., Weidner, K., Garthus-Niegel, S.*, Steudte-Schmiedgen, S.* (in press). The association between maternal symptoms of depression and hair cortisol concentrations in infants across the perinatal period. Psychoneuroendocrinology. [IF: 4.693]

Bergunde, L., Garthus-Niegel, S., Alexander, N., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S. (2022) Perinatal mental health research: towards an integrative biopsychosocial approach. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 1-4. [IF: 3.207]

Wintermann, G. B., Noack, R., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Weidner, K. (2022). Cortisol response under low intensity exercise during cognitive-behavioral therapy is associated with therapeutic outcome in panic disorder–an exploratory study. PloS one17(9), e0273413. [IF: 3.752]

Hannemann, J., Abdalrahman, A., Erim, Y., Morawa, E., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Beschoner, P., Geiser, F., Hiebel, N., Weidner, K., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Albus, C. (2022). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of medical staff considering the interplay of pandemic burden and psychosocial resources—A rapid systematic review. PloS one, 17(2), e0264290. [IF: 3.752]

Frohberg, J., Bittner, A., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Junge-Hoffmeister, J., Garthus-Niegel, S., Weidner, K. (2022). Early Abusive Relationships–Influence of Different Maltreatment Types on Postpartum Psychopathology and Mother-Infant Bonding in a Clinical Sample. Frontiers in psychiatry13. [IF: 5.435]

Schug, C., Erim, Y., Geiser, F., Hiebel, N., Beschoner, P., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Albus, C., Weidner, K., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Borho, A., Lieb, M. & Morawa, E. (2022). Bereitschaft zur COVID-19-Impfung unter Beschäftigten im Gesundheitswesen in Deutschland. Bundesgesundheitsblatt-Gesundheitsforschung-Gesundheitsschutz65(1), 74-85. [IF: 1.595]

Schindler, L., Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C., Plessow, F., Schönfeld, S., Hoyer, J., Trautmann, S., Weidner, K., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S. (2021). Lifetime Trauma History and Cognitive Functioning in Major Depression and Their Role for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Outcome. Clinical Psychology in Europe3(3), 1-24. [IF: 1,862]

Beschoner, P., Jarczok, M. N., Kempf, M., Weimer, K., Geiser, F., Hiebel, N., Erim Y., Morawa E., Steudte-Schmiedgen S., Albus C., Jerg-Bretzke, L. (2021). egePan-VOICE study on the psychosocial burden of the Covid-19 pandemic among-medical technical assistants. Zeitschrift fur Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, OA15-OA15. [IF: 1.00]

Clemens, V., Beschoner, P., Jarczok, M. N., Weimer, K., Kempf, M., Morawa, E., Geiser, F., Albus, C., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Gündel, H., Fegert, J.M., Jerg-Bretzke, L. (2021). The mediating role of COVID-19-related burden in the association between adverse childhood experiences and emotional exhaustion: results of the egePan–VOICE study. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. [IF: 5.783]

Schug, C., Morawa, E., Geiser, F., Hiebel, N., Beschoner, P., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Albus, C., Weidner, K., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Borho, A., Lieb, M., Erim, Y. (2021). Social Support and Optimism as Protective Factors for Mental Health among 7765 Healthcare Workers in Germany during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of the VOICE Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(7), 3827. [IF: 1.595]

Schmuck, J., Hiebel, N., Rabe, M., Schneider, J., Erim, Y., Morawa, E., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Beschoner, P., Christian, A., Hannemann, J., Weidner, K., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Radbruch, L., Brunsch, H., Geiser, F. (2021). Sense of coherence, social support and religiosity as resources for medical personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic: A web-based survey among 4324 health care workers within the German Network University Medicine. Plos one16(7), e0255211. [IF: 3.752]

Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Stieler, L., Erim, Y., Morawa, E., Geiser, F., Beschoner, P., Jerg-Bretzke, L., Albus, C., Hiebel, N., Weidner, K. (2021). Correlates and predictors of PTSD symptoms among health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: Results of the egePan-VOICE study. Frontiers in psychiatry12, 959. [IF: 5.435]

Hummel, K. V., Schellong, J., Trautmann, S., Kummer, S., Hürrig, S., Klose, M., Croy, I., Weidner, K., Kirschbaum, C., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S. (2021). The predictive role of hair cortisol concentrations for treatment outcome in PTSD inpatients. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 105326. [IF: 4.693]

Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Fay, E., Capitao, L., Kirschbaum, C., & Reinecke, A. (2021). Hydrocortisone as an adjunct to brief cognitive-behavioural therapy for specific fear: Endocrine and cognitive biomarkers as predictors of symptom improvement. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 02698811211001087. [IF: 4.562]

Woud, M. L., Blackwell, S. E., Shkreli, L., Würtz, F., Cwik, J. C., Margraf, J., Holmes, E. A., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Herpertz, S., Kessler, H. (2021). The Effects of Modifying Dysfunctional Appraisals in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using a Form of Cognitive Bias Modification: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial in an Inpatient Setting. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 1-17. [IF: 25.617]

Dempsey-Jones, H., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Browning, M., Makin, T. R., Woud, M. L., Harmer, C. J., Margraf. J., Reinecke, A. (2021). Human perceptual learning is delayed by the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor partial agonist D-cycloserine. Journal of Psychopharmacology35(3), 253-264. [IF: 4.562]

Schindler, L., Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C., Plessow, F., Schönfeld, S., Hoyer, J., Trautmann, S., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S. (2020). Cognitive functioning in posttraumatic stress disorder before and after cognitive-behavioral therapy. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 102265. [IF: 13.711]

Kappelmann, N., Suesse, M., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Kaldewaij, R., Browning, M., Michael, T., Rinck, M., Reinecke, A. (2020). D-cycloserine as adjunct to brief computerised CBT for spider fear: Effects on fear, behaviour, and cognitive biases. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 68, 101546. [IF: 2.662]

Petrowski, K., Wichmann, S., Pyrc, J., Kirschbaum, C*., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S*. (2020). Hair Cortisol predicts Avoidance Behavior and Depressiveness after first-time and single Event Trauma Exposure in Motor Vehicle Crash Victims. Stress, 1-28. [IF: 3.340]

Lorenz, P., Schindler, L., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Weidner, K., Kirschbaum, C., Schellong, J. (2019). Ecological momentary assessment in posttraumatic stress disorder and coping. An eHealth study protocol. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 10(1), 1654064. [IF: 5.783]

Kress, V., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Kopp, M., Förster, A., Altus, C., Schier, C., Wimberger, P., Kirschbaum, C., von Soest, T., Weidner, K., Junge-Hoffmeister, J., Garthus-Niegel, S. (2019). The impact of parental role distributions, work participation, and stress factors on family health-related outcomes: Study protocol of the prospective multi-method cohort “Dresden Study on Parenting, Work, and Mental Health”(DREAM). Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1273. [IF: 4.232]

Woud, M. L., Blackwell, S. E., Cwik, J. C., Margraf, J., Holmes, E. A., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Herpertz, S., Kessler, H. (2018). Augmenting inpatient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder with a computerised cognitive bias modification procedure targeting appraisals (CBM-App): protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMJ open 8, e019964. [IF: 3.007]

Woud, M. L., Blackwell, S. E., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Browning, M., Holmes, E. A., Harmer, C. J., Margraf, J., Reinecke, A. (2018). Investigating d-cycloserine as a potential pharmacological enhancer of an emotional bias learning procedure. Journal of Psychopharmacology32, 569-577. [IF: 4.562]

Alexander, N., Kirschbaum, C., Wankerl, M., Stauch, B. J., Stalder, T., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Muehlhan, M., Miller, R. (2018). Glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation moderates the association of childhood trauma and cortisol stress reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology 90, 68-75. [IF: 4.693]

Straub, J., Klaubert, L. M., Schmiedgen, S., Kirschbaum, C., Goldbeck, L. (2017). Hair cortisol in relation to acute and post-traumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping 30, 661-670. [IF: 3.813]

Triscoli, C., Croy, I., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Olausson, H., Sailer, U. (2017). Heart rate variability is enhanced by long-lasting pleasant touch at CT-optimized velocity. Biological Psychology 128, 71-81. [IF: 3.111]

Lenk, J., Spoerl, E., Stalder, T., Schmiedgen, S., Herber, R., Pillunat, L. E., Raiskup, F. (2017). Increased Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Patients With Progressive Keratoconus. Journal of Refractive Surgery 33, 383-388. [IF: 3.255]

Stalder, T., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Alexander, N., Klucken, T., Vater, A., Wichmann, S., Kirschbaum, C., Miller, R. (2017). Stress-related and basic determinants of hair cortisol in humans: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology 77, 261-274. [IF: 4.693]

Pacella, M. L., Hruska, B., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., George, R. L., Delahanty, D. L. (2017). The utility of hair cortisol concentrations in the prediction of PTSD symptoms following traumatic physical injury. Social Science & Medicine 175, 228-234. [IF: 5.379]

Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Wichmann, S., Stalder, T., Hilbert, K., Muehlhan, M., Lueken, U., Beesdo-Baum, K. (2017). Hair cortisol concentrations and cortisol stress reactivity in generalized anxiety disorder, major depression and their comorbidity. Journal of Psychiatric Research84, 184-190. [IF: 5.250]  

Trautmann, S., Muehlhan, M., Kirschbaum, C., Wittchen, H.-U., Höfler, M., Stalder, T., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S. (2017). Biological stress indicators as risk markers for increased alcohol use following traumatic experiences. Addiction Biology, doi: 10.1111/adb.12487. [IF: 4.093]

Steudte-Schmiedgen S., Kirschbaum, C., Stalder, T. (2016). An integrative model linking traumatization, cortisol dysregulation and posttraumatic stress disorder: insight from recent hair cortisol findings. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 69, 124-135. [IF: 9.052]

Jacobson, A. F., Umberger, W. A., Palmieri, P. A., Alexander, T. S., Myerscough, R. P., Draucker, C. B., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Kirschbaum, C. (2016). Guided imagery for total knee replacement: a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 22, 563-575. [IF: 2.381]

Pitts, K.P., Joksimovic, L., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Rohleder, N., Wolf, J.M. (2016). Determinants of altered intracellular endocrine-immune interplay in Bosnian war refugees suffering from PTSD. Biological Psychology 118, 1-7. [IF: 3.111]

McLennan, S. N., Ihle, A., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Kirschbaum, C., Kliegel, M. (2016). Hair cortisol and cognitive performance in working age adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology 67, 100-103. [IF: 4.693]

Hilbert, K., Pine, D. S., Muehlhan, M., Lueken, U., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Beesdo-Baum, K. (2015). Gray and white matter volume abnormalities in generalized anxiety disorder by categorical and dimensional characterization. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 234, 314-320. [IF: 2.493]

Schalinski, I., Elbert, T., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Kirschbaum, C. (2015). The cortisol paradox of trauma-related disorders: lower phasic responses but higher tonic levels of cortisol are associated with sexual abuse in childhood. PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0136921. [IF: 3.752]

Grass, J., Kirschbaum, C., Miller, R., Gao, W., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Stalder, T. (2015). Sweat-inducing physiological challenges do not result in acute changes in hair cortisol concentrations. Psychoneuroendocrinology 53, 108-116. [IF: 4.693]

Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Stalder, T., Schönfeld, S., Wittchen, H.-U., Trautmann, S., Alexander, N., Miller, R., Kischbaum, C. (2015). Hair cortisol concentrations and cortisol stress reactivity predict PTSD symptom increase after trauma exposure during military deployment. Psychoneuroendocrinology59, 123-133. [IF: 4.693]

Alexander, N., Wankerl, M., Hennig, J., Miller, R., Zänkert, S., Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C. (2014). DNA methylation profiles within the serotonin transporter gene moderate the association of 5-HTTLPR and cortisol stress reactivity. Translational Psychiatry4, e443. [IF: 7.989]

Steudte-Schmiedgen, S., Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C., Weber, F., Hoyer, J., Plessow, F. (2014). Trauma exposure is associated with increased context-dependent adjustments of cognitive control in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder and healthy controls. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience14, 1-10. [IF: 3.526]

Stalder, T., Tietze, A., Steudte, S., Alexander, N., Dettenborn, L., Kirschbaum, C. (2014). Elevated hair cortisol levels in chronically stressed dementia caregivers. Psychoneuroendocrinology47, 26-30. [IF: 4.693]

Steudte, S., Kirschbaum, C., Gao, W., Alexander, N., Schönfeld, S., Hoyer, J., Stalder, T. (2013). Hair cortisol as a biomarker of traumatization in healthy individuals and posttraumatic stress disorder patients. Biological Psychiatry74, 639-646. [IF: 12.810]

Wittchen, H.-U., Schönfeld, S., Kirschbaum, C., Thurau, C., Trautmann, S., Steudte, S., Klotsche, J., Höfler, M., Hauffa, R., Zimmermann, P. (2012). Traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder in soldiers following deployment abroad: how big is the hidden problem? Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 109, 559-568. [IF: 8.251]

Wittchen, H.-U., Schönfeld, S., Thurau, C., Trautmann, S., Galle, M., Mark, K., Hauffa, R., Zimmermann, P., Schaefer, J., Steudte, S., Siegert, J., Höfler, M., Kirschbaum, C. (2012). Prevalence, incidence and determinants of PTSD and other mental disorders: design and methods of the PID-PTSD+3 study. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 21, 98-116. [IF: 4.182]

Stalder, T., Steudte, S., Alexander, N., Miller, R., Dettenborn, L., Kirschbaum, C. (2012). Cortisol in hair, body mass index and stress-related measures. Biological Psychology 90, 218-223. [IF: 3.111]

Stalder, T., Steudte, S., Miller, R., Skoluda, N., Dettenborn, L., Kirschbaum, C. (2012). Intraindividual stability of hair cortisol concentrations. Psychoneuroendocrinology 37, 602-610. [IF: 4.693]

Dettenborn, L., Muhtz, C., Skoluda, N., Stalder, T., Steudte, S., Hinkelmann, K., Kirschbaum, C., Otte, C. (2012). Introducing a novel method to assess cumulative steroid concentrations: increased hair cortisol concentrations over 6 months in medicated patients with depression. Stress 15, 348-353. [IF: 3.340]  

Steudte, S., Kolassa, I.T., Stalder, T., Pfeiffer, A., Kirschbaum, C., Elbert, T. (2011). Increased cortisol concentrations in hair of severely traumatized Ugandan individuals with PTSD. Psychoneuroendocrinology 36, 1193–1200. [IF: 4.693]

Steudte, S., Stalder, T., Dettenborn, L., Klumbies, E., Foley, P., Beesdo-Baum, K., Kirschbaum, C. (2011). Decreased hair cortisol concentrations in generalised anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research 186, 310–314. [IF: 11.225]

Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C., Heinze, K., Steudte, S., Foley, P., Tietze, A., Dettenborn, L. (2010). Use of hair cortisol analysis to detect hypercortisolism during active drinking phases in alcohol-dependent individuals. Biological Psychology85, 357-360. [IF: 3.111]