TitleDaily stress and cortisol patterns in parents of adult children with a serious mental illness.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBarker, ET, Greenberg, JS, Seltzer, MMailick, Almeida, DM
JournalHealth Psychol
Date Published2012 Jan
KeywordsAdult, Adult Children, Aged, Aging, Bipolar Disorder, Case-Control Studies, Depressive Disorder, Major, Disabled Persons, Female, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Male, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Parenting, Parents, Saliva, Stress, Psychological, Young Adult

<p><b>OBJECTIVE: </b>The goal of the current study was to examine whether parenting an adult child with a serious mental illness (SMI) has a physiological impact on parents.</p><p><b>METHOD: </b>Multiple samples of saliva were collected on 4 days from 61 parents (mean age = 60.07 years, SD = 10.01) of individuals with a SMI (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression; mean age = 32.46 years, SD = 10.57) and a comparison group of 321 parents (mean age = 58.09 years, SD = 12.88) of individuals without a SMI (mean age = 32.36; SD = 13.87). Saliva samples were assayed for the hormone cortisol and group differences in diurnal cortisol patterns and their association with daily stress severity were explored.</p><p><b>RESULTS: </b>On days after elevated stress, a hypoactivation pattern of diurnal cortisol suggestive of chronic stress was evident for parents of individuals with a SMI. After more stressful days, cortisol levels increased less from waking to 30 min after waking and declined less from 30 min after waking to bedtime for parents of individuals with a SMI.</p><p><b>CONCLUSIONS: </b>The results of the current study add to a growing body of evidence that the long-term effects of parenting an adult with a disability has a biological impact on aging parents and support the need for family interventions across adulthood and into old age for parents of individuals with SMI.</p>

Alternate JournalHealth Psychol
PubMed ID21895369
PubMed Central IDPMC3254790
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG20166 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG021079-01 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG020166 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG021079 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P01 AG020166-01A1 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States