, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 107-122

Reductions in Salivary Cortisol Are Associated with Mood Improvement During Relaxation Training Among HIV-Seropositive Men

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This study examined salivary cortisol and mood during relaxation training in 30 symptomatic, HIV+ gay men participating in a 10-week, group-based cognitive-behavioral stress management intervention. Cortisol levels and mood were assessed within these sessions just before and after 45-min relaxation exercises given as part of each session. Participants also recorded their stress level and compliance with daily home relaxation practice. Presession cortisol levels decreased across the 10-week period and were related to decreases in global measures of total mood disturbance and anxious mood. Reductions in presession cortisol levels were also associated with decreases in self-reported stress level during home practice. Greater reductions in cortisol during the first three sessions were associated with more frequent relaxation practice at home. These findings suggest that salivary cortisol represents an objective neuroendocrine marker for changes in anxiety and distress observed during relaxation training in symptomatic, HIV-seropositive men.