Perceived stress and ADHD symptoms in adults

J Atten Disord. 2015 May;19(5):425-34. doi: 10.1177/1087054712459558. Epub 2012 Oct 3.


Objective: Given that ADHD has been linked to dysfunction across development and in many life domains, it is likely that individuals experiencing these symptoms are at increased risk for experiencing stress. The current study examines the association between ADHD and other psychiatric symptoms and perceived stress in a community sample of adults.

Method: Perceived stress data collected from 983 participants (M(age) = 45.6 years) were analyzed primarily via hierarchical multiple regression using ADHD symptom clusters, demographic variables, and anxiety and depression scale variables as predictors.

Results and conclusion: ADHD symptoms positively associated with perceived stress. Inattention and sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), as opposed to hyperactivity-impulsivity and newly proposed executive dysfunction symptoms, were the most consistent predictors. These findings reinforce that the experience of ADHD symptoms in adulthood is associated with stress and suggest that SCT could play an important role in assessing risk for negative adult outcomes.

Keywords: ADHD; adults; sluggish cognitive tempo; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / psychology
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*