Suzanne Vrshek-Schallhorn

Dr. Suzanne Vrshek-Schallhorn is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the Clinical Psychology area. She completed her PhD at the University of Minnesota, followed by postdoctoral training at Northwestern University. Her work probes pathways from life stress to depression, using the lenses of stress interviews, stress measure development, molecular genetics, cortisol diurnal rhythm and reactivity, trait vulnerabilities, and discrimination as a stressor. She is also interested in the impact of stress on first-generation student mental health and college persistence. She has held funding from NSF, NIMH, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD), and she was named the 2019 Donald F. Klein Early Career Investigator by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and is nationally Board Certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology

There are 47 included publications by Suzanne Vrshek-Schallhorn :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
Additive genetic risk from five serotonin system polymorphisms interacts with interpersonal stress to predict depression 2015 358 Behavioral genetic research supports polygenic models of depression in which many genetic variations each contribute a small amount of risk, and prevailing diathesis-stress models suggest gene– environment interactions (G?E). Multilocus profile score...
Additive serotonergic genetic sensitivity and cortisol reactivity to lab-based social evaluative stress: Influence of severity across two samples 2022 290 Prior work demonstrates that an additive serotonergic multilocus genetic profile score (MGPS) predicts amplified risk for depression following significant life stress, and that it interacts with elevations in the cortisol awakening response to predic...
Adversity in early and mid-adolescence is associated with elevated startle responses to safety cues in late adolescence 2013 51 Elevated responding to safety cues in the context of threat is associated with anxiety disorder onset, but pathways underlying such responding remain unclear. In this study, we examined whether childhood/adolescent adversity was associated with large...
Affective bias and response modulation following tyrosine depletion in healthy adults 2006 306 Acute phenylalanine/tyrosine depletion (ATPD) has been used to transiently lower central nervoussystem dopamine activity in animals and humans. Findings suggest that ATPD may impactdopamine transmission in limbic and striatal regions. Impact on cogni...
Chronic and episodic interpersonal stress as statistically unique predictors of depression in two samples of emerging adults 2015 301 Few studies comprehensively evaluate which types of life stress are most strongly associated with depressive episode onsets, over and above other forms of stress, and comparisons between acute and chronic stress are particularly lacking. Past researc...
Cortisol awakening response and additive serotonergic genetic risk interactively predict depression in two samples: The 2019 Donald F. Klein Early Career Investigator Award Paper 2019 351 Background The serotonin system and hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis are each implicated in the pathway to depression; human and animal research support these systems’ cross-talk. Our work implicates a 5-variant additive serotoninergic multi...
The cortisol awakening response (CAR) interacts with acute interpersonal stress to prospectively predict depressive symptoms among early adolescent girls 2019 55 The cortisol awakening response (CAR) has been shown to prospectively predict depression, but it remains unresolved whether a greater CAR predicts risk independently of subsequent acute stress, or whether greater CAR indicates increased vulnerability...
The Cortisol Awakening Response predicts major depression: Predictive stability over a four year follow-up and effect of depression history 2013 76 Background The cortisol awakening response (CAR) has been shown to predict major depressive episodes (MDEs) over a 1-year period. It is unknown whether this effect: (a) is stable over longer periods of time; (b) is independent of prospective stressfu...
The cortisol reactivity threshold model: Direction of trait rumination and cortisol reactivity association varies with stressor severity 2018 387 Various internalizing risk factors predict, in separate studies, both augmented and reduced cortisol responding to lab-induced stress. Stressor severity appears key: We tested whether heightened trait-like internalizing risk (here, trait rumination) ...
Depression in early adolescence: Contributions from relational aggression and variation in the oxytocin receptor gene 2017 324 Interpersonal stress arising from relational aggression (RA)—the intentional effort to harm others via rejection and exclusion—may increase risk for depression in youth. Biological vulnerabilities related to the hormone oxytocin, which affects social...
Differentiation of obsessive-compulsive-, panic-, obsessive-compulsive personality-, and non-disordered individuals by variation in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene 2005 74 Past research investigating the role of the serotonin transporter gene in OCD has produced mixed findings. One possible reason for the mixed findings is comorbidity. In this study, non-comorbid OCD individuals were compared to non-disordered controls...
Dopaminergic Genetic Variation in Young Adolescents: Associations with Sensation-Seeking 2021 59 Deficient reward functioning, including reward-related personality, is implicated in depression’s etiology. A dopaminergic genetic multilocus genetic profile score (MGPS) has previously been associated with neural reward responsivity but, despite the...
Early Adversity and Depressive Symptoms Among Early Adolescent Girls: The Mediating Role of Exposure to Recent Interpersonal Acute Stress 2021 370 Early adversity confers risk for depression in part through its association with recent (i.e., proximal) acute stress. However, it remains unresolved whether: a) early adversity predicts increases in recent acute stress over time; b) all – or only ce...
The effect of acute exercise on the cortisol awakening response 2023 126 The effects of acute exercise on the cortisol awakening response (CAR), characterized by the rapid increase in cortisol concentrations within the 30–45 min following sleep offset has yet to be fully elucidated. Thus, our study investigated the effect...
The effect of acute tyrosine phenylalanine depletion on emotion-based decision-making in healthy adults 2013 317 Despite interest in dopamine's role in emotion-based decision-making, few reports of the effects of dopamine manipulations are available in this area in humans. This study investigates dopamine's role in emotion-based decision-making through a common...
The effects of childhood and adolescent adversity on substance use disorders and poor health in early adulthood 2016 80 Childhood and adolescent adversity have been shown to predict later mental and physical health outcomes. Understanding which aspects and developmental timings of adversity are important, and the mechanisms by which they have their impact may help gui...
Effects of the serotonin transporter polymorphism and history of major depression on overgeneral autobiographical memory 2013 43 Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM) is a key memory deficit in major depressive disorder (MDD). Much research has examined cognitive mechanisms underlying OGM, but little work has investigated potential neurobiological influences. There is prel...
Effects of trauma-focused rumination among trauma-exposed individuals with and without posttraumatic stress disorder: An experiment 2023 415 Rumination, or thinking repetitively about one's distress, is a risk factor for posttraumatic stressdisorder (PTSD). Current theories suggest that rumination contributes to PTSD symptoms directly,by increasing negative reactions to trauma cues (i.e.,...
Elevated responding to safe conditions as a specific risk factor for anxiety versus depressive disorders: Evidence from a longitudinal investigation 2011 52 The current study evaluated the degree to which startle reflexes (SRs) in safe conditions versus danger conditions were predictive of the onset of anxiety disorders. Specificity of these effects to anxiety disorders was evaluated in comparison to uni...
Examining the long-term stability of overgeneral autobiographical memory 2013 49 Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM) is a proposed trait-marker for vulnerability to depression, but relatively little work has examined its long-term stability. This study investigated the stability of OGM over several years in 271 late adolesc...
Experiences of Adversity in Childhood and Adolescence and Cortisol in Late Adolescence 2021 115 Early life adversity influences the diurnal cortisol rhythm, yet the relative influence of different characteristics of adversity remains unknown. In this study, we examine how developmental timing (childhood vs. adolescence), severity (major vs. min...
Experiencing core symptoms of anxiety and unipolar mood disorders in late adolescence predicts disorder onset in early adulthood 2014 50 Background Identification of youth at risk for anxiety and unipolar mood disorders (UMDs) can improve public health by targeting those who may warrant early or preventive intervention. This study examined whether endorsing core features of anxiety an...
Five-year prospective neuroticism-stress effects on major depressive episodes: Primarily additive effects of the general neuroticism factor and stress 2020 77 The past decades of research on predictors of depression have frequently emphasized interactive diathesis–stress questions: What kinds of vulnerabilities under stressful circumstances increase risk of developing depression? This study addresses 3 the...
Gene-environment interactions across multiple units of analysis 2019 84 The present chapter examines four overarching topics: theoretical models undergirding G×E research, a brief history of G×E and its controversies, the current state of G×E research and emerging approaches, and future directions. We give particular att...
The impact of prior day sleep and physical activity on the cortisol awakening response 2021 386 The cortisol awakening response (CAR) describes the increase in cortisol within the first 30–60 min after waking from nocturnal sleep, and is a common biomarker used within psychoneuroendocrinology, but the effect of sleep on the CAR is currently unc...
Individual differences in early adolescents’ latent trait cortisol: Interaction of early adversity and 5-HTTLPR 2019 61 The present study aimed to examine the interaction of 5-HTTLPR and early adversity on trait-like levels of cortisol. A community sample of 117 early adolescent girls (M age = 12.39 years) provided DNA samples for 5-HTTLPR genotyping, and saliva sampl...
Interaction of CD38 variant and chronic interpersonal stress is associated with social anxiety and depression symptoms over six years 2015 79 Variation in the CD38 gene, which regulates secretion of the neuropeptide oxytocin, has been associated with several social phenotypes. Specifically, rs3796863 A allele carriers have demonstrated increased social sensitivity. In 400 older adolescents...
Large Sample Sizes Cannot Compensate for Mismeasured Environments in GxE Research 2019 66 To the Editor: We respect Border et al.’s ambitious undertaking (1), which was published in the May 2019 issue of the Journal. We endorse greater scrutiny of novel effects within the literature on gene-by-environment (G×E) interactions, including rep...
Letter to the editor: Bias in the measurement of bias. Letter regarding 'Citation bias and selective focus on positive findings in the literature on the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR), life stress and depression' 2016 318 de Vries et al. (2016) argue that discussion of the 5-HTTLPR-stress gene-environment interaction (G × E) (Caspi et al. 2003) is more positive than merited because authors often cast negative results as positive in abstracts, and negative papers with ...
Measurement invariance of the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire (INQ-15) across sexual orientation, gender identity, and race/ethnicity in a sample of sexual minority young adults 2022 439 Sexual minority (e.g., gay, lesbian, bisexual) people are at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors compared to their heterosexual peers. The interpersonal theory of suicide proposes that perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingnes...
Neuroticism and interpretive bias as risk factors for anxiety and depression 2020 61 Neuroticism has been associated with depression and anxiety both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Interpretive bias has been associated with depression and anxiety, primarily in cross-sectional and bias induction studies. The purpose of the curr...
Nonsynonymous HTR2C Polymorphism Predicts Cortisol Response to Psychosocial Stress I: Effects in Males and Females 2016 337 Background Genetic influences on stress reactivity may provide insight into depression risk mechanisms. The C-allele of rs6318, a putatively functional polymorphism located within the HTR2C gene, has been reported to predict greater cortisol and nega...
Novel Perspectives on Adversity Exposure, Stress Responding, and Academic Retention Among First- and Continuing-Generation Students 2022 383 First-generation college students are less likely to complete their degrees than continuing-generation students, in part due to experiences of educational and socioeconomic adversity. Accounting for adversity and its downstream implications is likely...
People who need people: Trait loneliness influences positive affect as a function of interpersonal context 2018 73 Trait loneliness is associated with negative health consequences; understanding involved processes may elucidate its contributory role. Evolutionary and reaffiliative models associate loneliness with negative affect and dysregulated cortisol respondi...
Personality subtyping and bulimia nervosa: psychopathological and genetic correlates 2005 304 Background. There is empirical evidence suggesting that individuals with bulimia nervosa vary considerably in terms of psychiatric co-morbidity and personality functioning. In this study, latent profile analysis was used to attempt to identify cluste...
Prospective associations between the cortisol awakening response and first onsets of anxiety disorders over a six-year follow-up – 2013 Curt Richter Award Winner 2013 330 Cross-sectional associations have been found between anxiety disorders (ADs) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning, as measured by levels of salivary cortisol, but prospective data are lacking, as are studies examining specific AD...
Prospective predictors of suicidal ideation during depressive episodes among older adolescents and young adults 2011 329 Suicide is a leading cause of death among older adolescents and young adults; however, few studies have prospectively examined risk for suicidal ideation. The present study in older adolescents and young adults investigated whether two personality tr...
Refining the candidate environment: Interpersonal stress, the serotonin transporter polymorphism, and gene-environment interactions on major depression 2013 52 Meta-analytic evidence has supported a gene-environment interaction between life stress and the serotonin transporter–linked polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) on depression, but few studies have examined factors that influence detection of this effect, despite...
Serotonergic Multilocus Genetic Variation Moderates the Association Between Major Interpersonal Stress and Adolescent Depression: Replication and Candidate Environment Specification 2019 86 Serotonin-linked genetic risk and stressful life event (SLE) interaction research has been criticized for using single genetic variants with inconsistent replicability. A recent study showed that a multilocus genetic profile score (MGPS) capturing ad...
Severe and nonsevere events in first onsets versus recurrences of depression: Evidence for stress sensitization 2010 365 Overall, research has evidenced support for Post’s (1992) model, which asserts that the 1st episode of depression is more likely to be associated with severe life events than are subsequent episodes. In spite of this, there are significant gaps in th...
Stress in Depression 2019 130 That life stress precipitates depression is one of the most replicated findings in psychiatric research,but prior to Brown and Harris’s seminal contributions, insufficiently rigorous methods led tounderestimates of the effects of stress and threatene...
Stress sensitization to depression following childhood adversity: Moderation by HPA-axis and serotonergic multilocus profile scores 2020 411 Childhood adversity appears to sensitize youth to stress, increasing depression risk following stressful life events occurring throughout the lifespan. Some evidence suggests hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis-related and serotonergic genetic ...
Testing the CaR-FA-X model: Investigating the mechanisms underlying reduced autobiographical memory specificity in those with and without a history of depression 2014 47 Reduced autobiographical memory specificity (AMS) is an important cognitive phenomenon in major depressive disorder (MDD), but knowledge about mechanisms is lacking. The CaR–FA–X model of Williams and colleagues (2007) proposed that 3 processes contr...
Testing a hierarchical model of neuroticism and its cognitive facets: Latent structure and prospective prediction of first onsets of anxiety and unipolar mood disorders over three years in late adolescence 2016 74 Neuroticism and several other traits have been proposed to confer vulnerability for unipolar mood disorders (UMDs) and anxiety disorders (ADs). However, it is unclear whether the associations of these vulnerabilities with these disorders are attribut...
Trait rumination and response to negative evaluative lab-induced stress: neuroendocrine, affective, and cognitive outcomes 2018 299 Theoretical models of depression posit that, under stress, elevated trait rumination predicts more pronounced or prolonged negative affective and neuroendocrine responses, and that trait rumination hampers removing irrelevant negative information fro...
Validating new summary indices for the Childhood Trauma Interview: Associations with first onsets of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders 2014 384 Childhood and adolescent adversity is of great interest in relation to risk for psychopathology, and interview measures of adversity are thought to be more reliable and valid than their questionnaire counterparts. One interview measure, the Childhood...
Variations in the Catechol O-methyltransferase polymorphism and prefrontally-guided behaviors in adolescents 2006 44 Background The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene codes for an enzyme that degrades prefrontal cortex (PFC) synaptic dopamine. Of two identified alleles (Met and Val), the Met allele results in COMT activity that is up to 4 times less pronounce...