This study investigated variations in salivary levels of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in a prolonged stressful situation (a two-week teaching practice). Thirty-three women for whom a two-week teaching practice at a kindergarten was scheduled were asked to collect saliva samples at awakening, 30. min after awakening, and bedtime at four time points: two weeks before the practice, the first week of the practice, the second week of the practice, and a few days after the practice. In addition, they completed questionnaires for assessing perceived stress and subjective moods on each day. A linear mixed model indicated that cortisol levels significantly increased during the first and second week of the practice compared with those before and after the practice period, and that DHEA levels significantly decreased after the practice period compared with those at the other time points. Further, cortisol awakening response after the practice period significantly reduced compared with that at the other time points. Scores of perceived stress and negative moods were also higher during the practice period. This study showed that prolonged stress affected cortisol and DHEA secretion during as well as after the stress period.
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