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High self-perceived stress and many stressors, but normal diurnal cortisol rhythm, in adults with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2009 (English)In: Hormones and Behavior, ISSN 0018-506X, E-ISSN 1095-6867, Vol. 55, no 3, 418-424 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults is associated with significant impairment in many life activities and may thus increase the risk of chronic stress in everyday life. We compared adults with a DSM-IV ADHD diagnosis (n=28) with healthy controls (n=28) regarding subjective stress and amounts of stressors in everyday life, diurnal salivary cortisol in the everyday environment and salivary cortisol before and after cognitive stress in a laboratory setting. The association between cortisol concentrations and impulsivity was also investigated. Consistent with assumptions, individuals with ADHD reported significantly more self-perceived stress than controls, and subjective stress correlated with the amount of stressors in everyday life. The two groups were comparable with respect to overall diurnal cortisol levels and rhythm, as well as in pre- and post-stress cortisol concentrations. Post-stress cortisol (but not baseline cortisol) concentration was positively correlated with impulsivity. The group with high post-stress cortisol also reported more symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as self-perceived stress and stressors in everyday life. The diagnosis of ADHD significantly increased the risk of belonging to the group with high post-stress cortisol levels. The results in this study warrant a focus not only on the primary diagnosis of ADHD, but also calls for a broader assessment of stressors and subjective stress in everyday life, as well as support comprising stress management and coping skills.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier B. V. , 2009. Vol. 55, no 3, 418-424 p.
Keyword [en]
ADHD, adults, subjective stress, stress response, HPA axis, cortisol
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-27603DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2008.12.004ISI: 000264516300006OAI: diva2:216430

We are indebted to all participants involved in this study. We also wish to express our gratitude to Miriam Talvik and Bengt Andrée for their valuable comments during the planning stage of the study; Ylva Ginsberg, Pernilla Bothén, Else Waaler, Gunnar Jakobsson, Anna Johnson, Annika Brar and Annie Sagrén at the Neuropsychiatric Unit of the Department of Psychiatry, Karolinska University Hospital, for their support in recruiting the participants in the ADHD group; Raffaella Björck for her assistance in recruiting the control group; as well as Jussi Jokinen for his valuable comments on the previous version of the manuscript.

Available from: 2009-05-08 Created: 2009-05-08 Last updated: 2015-09-04Bibliographically approved

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