Call for Papers for a Special Section of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology: Stress Sensitivity in Psychopathology: Mechanisms and Consequences
Sensitivity to stress is a primary mechanism contributing to the etiology and maintenance of many forms of psychopathology. Indeed, enhanced stress sensitivity has been proposed as a key endophenotype for major depressive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Nevertheless, the theoretical and empirical literatures addressing the integration of methods and mechanisms across levels of analysis of the stress response – environmental/contextual, behavioral, cognitive-affective, neural – are still underdeveloped and many questions remain unanswered regarding the underlying mechanisms and functional consequences of stress sensitivity in psychopathology.
There is evidence for heightened subjective, behavioral, and neural reactivity to induced stress in depression and other forms of psychopathology, as well as decreased thresholds for response to stressful contexts and life events. Such enhanced stress sensitivity has been included into conceptual and etiological models of psychopathology. Yet, the specific mechanisms by which stress sensitivity impacts the phenomenology of psychiatric disorders are not fully understood. Studies indexing stress sensitivity via psychoneuroendocrinological function have contributed important advances in understanding the basic brain processes associated with the body’s stress response.
There is also growing evidence that various contextual, cognitive, personality and behavioral factors impact the endocrine response to acute stressors. However, the extent to which enhanced stress sensitivity observed in psychiatric disorders can be primarily attributed to dysregulation of core endocrine processes (e.g., adrenal sensitivity, poor regulatory feedback) versus other biopsychosocial factors (e.g., cognitive biases) is unclear.
At the same time, the field of life events has clarified in fine-grained detail the changing role of life events in the etiology and recurrence of various disorders. However, how these putative outcomes are moderated or mediated by cognitive, affective, and biological mechanisms that regulate stress responses is less clear.
The special section of Journal of Abnormal Psychology will focus on the role of sensitivity to stress in a variety of forms of psychopathology.
The special section will ideally include papers both on disorders long thought to involve heightened stress sensitivity (e.g., major depressive disorder) as well as disorders for which an emphasis on stress is less common (e.g., bipolar disorder, disruptive behavioral disorders).
Papers for the special section will address one or more aspects of enhanced stress sensitivity as they influence the etiology and pathophysiology of psychopathology.
Empirical papers will focus on the use of state-of-the-art methods to capture sensitivity to environmental context, such as contextual life event interviews, ecological momentary assessments, laboratory-based stress induction, neurohormonal assay, fMRI, EEG, or behavioral coding.
We will also consider theoretical papers that make a novel contribution to clarifying the mechanism and/or assessment of stress sensitivity in psychopathology.
We particularly seek papers that take a developmental perspective, which includes understanding both the initial onset of psychopathology and the course of psychopathology. Thus, the populations of interest could range from children to adults. In addition, topics could include heightened stress sensitivity as a vulnerability marker in high-risk populations or as a predictor of later onset of psychopathology.
Please email an abstract (200 words or fewer) of a proposed submission by September 1, 2013.
Full submissions should be submitted through the Journal’s electronic portal, under the Instructions to Authors by February 15, 2014. Do not send a completed manuscript without approval of the abstract.
All submissions for the special section will go through the normal peer-review process, with no guarantee of acceptance. All submissions must comply with APA policies, including certification of compliance with APA ethical principles for research, the prohibition of multiple submissions and duplicate publication, authors' obligation to retain raw data, and other requirements for submission to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology as noted on the submission site.