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Cortisol levels in hair indicative of depression or mental illness in adolescents

According to a group of researchers from Ohio State University, one day it may be possible to diagnose depression or mental illness in adolescents by analyzing their hair.

Analyzing the concentration of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the hair as well as the same symptoms of depression in 432 adolescents aged between 11 and 17 years, the researchers have in fact found what was defined in the press release appeared on the website of the University as a “surprising connection.”

In fact, higher cortisol levels seemed to correspond to a greater probability of depression while lower levels could be linked to mental problems. Few types of research in the past have considered this hormone as a possible predictor of depression and in this sense, this research provides fairly new data in this sense.

In the scientific article, which appeared in Psychoneuroendocrinology, we describe the experiments and analyzes carried out by researchers who suggest, as specified by Jodi Ford, a nursing professor at the aforementioned university and the principal author of the study, that there may be an average level of cortisol which can be considered as “normal”: a level that is too low or too high could therefore indicate bad things.

This discovery leads to an important connection whose demonstration requires further research though, as Ford itself points out, “it is possible for some people to experience a reduction in the stress response that reduces cortisol production or changes the way in which is processed. Maybe the body isn’t using cortisol the way it should in some cases.”