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Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders

Emerging research suggests daily stress may be more dangerous to our health than previously believed.

In a series of studies, Canadian investigators have found there may be a link between the recent rise in depression rates and the increase of daily stress.

“Major depression has become one of the most pressing health issues in both developing and developed countries,” says principle researcher Mark Ellenbogen, a professor at Concordia University.

“What is especially alarming is that depression in young people is increasing in successive generations. People are suffering from depression earlier in life and more people are getting it. We want to know why and how. We believe that stress is a major contributor.”

From parent to child, Ellenbogen and colleagues are particularly interested in the link between childhood stress and the development of clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

His team is evaluating the stress of children who are living in families where one parent is affected by a mood disorder.

“Previous studies have shown that kids from at-risk families are at higher risk of having a psychiatric disorder in their lifetime,” says Ellenbogen.

“We know that they’re not just inheriting these traits but they are also being raised in an environment that is stressful, chaotic and lacking in structure. Our goal is to tease out how this type of environment influences these children’s mental health in adolescence and adulthood.”

To assess stress levels, Ellenbogen is measuring the levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is present in saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body in response to stressful life events and challenges.

Ellenbogen’s recent findings have shown that the adolescent offspring of at-risk families have higher salivary cortisol levels than kids from families without disorders. What’s more, he found these elevated levels persist into young adulthood.

“Although there may be many causes to the rise in cortisol, this increase may be in part due to exposure to family stress and parenting style,” says Ellenbogen.

“We have not yet confirmed that these children then go on to develop mood disorders of their own. However, we have some exciting preliminary data showing that high cortisol levels in adolescences doubles your risk for developing a serious mood disorder in young adulthood.”

Source: Concordia University

Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/04/stress-as-a-predictor-of-adult-mood-disorders/20530.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.