Stress, allostatic load and mental health in Indigenous Australians

Ketheesan, S., Rinaudo, M., Berger, M., Wenitong, M., Juster, R. P., McEwen, B. S., and Sarnyai, Z. (2020) Stress, allostatic load and mental health in Indigenous Australians. Stress, 23 (5). pp. 509-518.

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The aim of this narrative review was to demonstrate how the notion of allostatic load (AL) relates directly to the mental health disparities observed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We also endeavored to synthesize the results of the limited number of studies examining stress and AL in Indigenous Australians in order to explore the potential public health benefits of the AL concept. A range of literature examining health inequalities, psychosocial determinants of mental illness and AL was explored to demonstrate the applicability of stress biology to the significant mental health burden faced by Indigenous Australians. Furthermore, all original studies indexed in MEDLINE that provided quantitative data on primary stress biomarkers in Indigenous Australians were selected for review. Evidence of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and increased AL is apparent even in the handful of studies examining stress biomarkers in Indigenous Australians. Urinary, salivary, hair and fingernail cortisol, hair cortisone, urinary epinephrine, heart rate variability and the cortisol awakening response are all AL parameters which have been shown to be dysregulated in Indigenous Australian cohorts. Furthermore, associations between some of these biomarkers, self-perceived discrimination, exposure to stressful life events and symptoms of psychiatric disorders in Indigenous Australians have also been demonstrated. The continued assessment of AL biomarkers and their relationship with past traumas, lifetime stressors and socio-economic factors amongst Indigenous Australians is important to addressing the mental health this population. Measurement of AL biomarkers in a culturally appropriate manner may lead to more targeted preventative measures, interventions and policies, which mitigate the effects of stress at both the individual and societal level.

Item ID: 63598
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1607-8888
Keywords: stress, allostatic load, Indigenous Australians, aboriginal, torres strait Islander
Copyright Information: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2020 04:41
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3209 Neurosciences > 320903 Central nervous system @ 70%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420313 Mental health services @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920111 Nervous System and Disorders @ 100%
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