Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and maternal psychosomatic stress: a case–control study

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Abstract

Objectives

This research aimed to assess the level of psychological and physiological stress in mothers of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to explore social and child-related factors associated with self-reported maternal mental and physical health and level of proinflammatory biomarkers.

Participants and methods

A total of 30 mothers and their children with ADHD were compared with 18 mothers of healthy children. Children were assessed with the KSADS-PL psychiatric interview, Conner’s Parent Rating Scale, and Wechsler Intelligence Scale. Mothers were assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale, Interpersonal Support Evaluation Checklist, Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Their plasma levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein were measured.

Results

Mothers of patients with ADHD had higher scores in almost all the scales; however, values of proinflammatory biomarkers showed no significant difference. There was a significant association between parenting a child with ADHD and the presence of high level of perceived stress, having depression or anxiety. Mothers of ADHD children with high Conner’s Parent Rating Scale oppositional subscale scores showed higher somatic complaints. Those with less perceived social support had less total sleeping hours. Development of anxiety and depression was correlated with low levels of perceived support and high levels of perceived stress.

Conclusion

Parenting a child with ADHD is associated with significant stress and lack of social support, which are significantly correlated to the development of psychological and physical morbidity, not necessarily associated with abnormal biomarkers. When treating a child with ADHD, measures to improve the mother’s state of well-being should be considered, including counseling and self-help groups.

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