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Experience of stress, emotional regulation and physiological stress reactions

In this project, we study the physiological regulation and experience of stress in children. We examine how life events during pregnancy and the early years of life can influence the child's physiological stress regulation as well as mental well-being in the long-term. We study children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how they experience and react to stress.

The research has shown that young people with ADHD estimate their stress as being higher than their peers. This applies especially to girls with ADHD. This is possibly a consequence of the symptoms' effects on everyday functions and/or is a result of inflexibility in the stress regulation system.

The body reacts to stress partly through the activation of the so called sympathetic nervous system, our ”fight or flight” system, and partly by a hormonal response conveyed through the pituitary to the adrenal gland where cortisol is released, called the HPA-axis. In the physiological stress response in children with ADHD, we have found an endogenous HPA-axis with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. An endogenous HPA-axis has previously been associated mainly with PTSD.

In our ongoing projects, we continue to explore the differences between boys and girls with ADHD. We examine the effectiveness of psychological treatment for ADHD and if treatment can minimize the perceived stress. We try to identify stress reactions related to PTSD as well as biomarkers for PTSD.


Johan Isaksson
Frank Lindblad
Vladislav Ruchkin
Mia Ramklint
Jenny Meyer
Vendela Zetterqvist
Elina Arn
Anna Oremark

Gruppen har samarbete med följande forskare:

Kent W Nilsson, Centre for Clinical Research, Västmanland Hospital Västerås
Ulf Högberg, Inst för kvinnor och barns hälsa, Uppsala universitet
Maria Hallerbäck Unenge Gillberg Centrum, Göteborgs universitet


Johan Isaksson, researcher