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Produced by the adrenal cortex, cortisol is the end product of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation. Commonly referred to as a stress hormone, cortisol is released in response to a variety of psychosocial stressors. Cortisol serves numerous functions in the body and has been implicated in many mental and physical health conditions and disorders. Cortisol is an important hormone in the context of abnormal and clinical psychology because reduced and elevated levels of the hormone have been linked to a multitude of mental health disorders and psychopathological processes. This entry introduces the biological background of cortisol and its functions and describes common assessment techniques. Following an overview of the links between cortisol and key mental and physical health processes, this entry details several specific disorders ...

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