Increased stigma and discrimination can affect circadian HPA-axis functioning.
Cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to maintaining the natural balance of the body. It is often referred to as “the stress hormone,” as cortisol influences, regulates, and modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress.
Diurnal cortisol studies measure the level of cortisol in the body at various times during the day to examine possible adrenal imbalances. The majority of these diurnal cortisol studies have been conducted among white heterosexuals, with very little research examining HPA-axis functioning between different minorities. However, individuals who identify as both sexual and racial minorities may experience increased stigma and discrimination that can affect this HPA-axis functioning.