November 2, 2015
ADHD: Lack of attention is stressful!
A recent study conducted by researchers from Tel Hai College in Israel showed that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) presented higher levels of anxiety, a lower performance score and a higher level of cortisol (an important stress hormone) when they were confronted to a stressful test.
Forty-nine young participants from ages 24 to 28 years participated in this study, whose primary objective was to explore the effects of an ADHD diagnostic condition on the performance of a stress-related task. In order to conduct their study, researchers first separated participants in 2 groups: an ADHD group and a control group (non-ADHD individuals). Both groups completed different questionnaires before the intervention, including one assessing anxiety towards performance. Subsequently, during the intervention, each participant provided saliva samples (to measure cortisol levels) at 3 different time points: before the task (baseline), after the stress task and 20 minutes after completing the task. Moreover, they completed a questionnaire assessing their perceived stress at different moments during the task.
Results showed that participants from the ADHD group tend to feel more anxiety in a stress-related situation compared to the control group. Cortisol analysis also revealed that their cortisol reactivity was substantially higher when compared to the control group. In other words, when they are faced with a stress-related task, they are more stressed!
This study is the first one to report such an effect within an adult population suffering from ADHD. Based on these results, it will be important to conduct other studies on children, adolescents and young adults in order to develop interventions or education programs on stress amongst these populations. Meanwhile, we invite you to understand your stress!