Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children of bipolar parents are overly sensitive to stress hormone cortisol, study finds

Date:
May 6, 2011
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Children whose mother or father is affected by bipolar disorder may need to keep their stress levels in check. A new international study suggests the stress hormone cortisol is a key player in the mood disorder. The findings are the first to show that cortisol is elevated more readily in these children in response to the stressors of normal everyday life.

Children whose mother or father is affected by bipolar disorder may need to keep their stress levels in check. A new international study, led by Concordia University, suggests the stress hormone cortisol is a key player in the mood disorder. The findings published in Psychological Medicine, are the first to show that cortisol is elevated more readily in these children in response to the stressors of normal everyday life.

"Previous research has shown that children of parents with bipolar disorder are four times as likely to develop mood disorders as those from parents without the condition," says senior author Mark Ellenbogen, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychopathology at Concordia University and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development. "The goal of our study was to determine how this is happening."

Cortisol, the telltale hormone

 

Ellenbogen and colleagues had previously shown that cortisol levels in children with a parent affected by bipolar disorder were higher than kids whose parents were unaffected by the condition. The current study measured cortisol levels in these same individuals during chronic and episodic stress periods. In both circumstances, children of parents with bipolar disorder showed a greater increase in cortisol than those of parents without the disorder.

"Our study demonstrates that affected children are biologically more sensitive to the experience of stress in their natural and normal environment compared to unaffected peers," says Ellenbogen. "This higher reactivity to stress might be one explanation of why these offspring end up developing disorders and is a clear risk factor to becoming ill later on."

"We think we might be beginning to understand where we can intervene to actually prevent this increased sensitivity from developing," continues Ellenbogen. "We believe this sensitivity develops during childhood and our suspicion is that if you could teach both parents and their offspring on how to cope with stress, how to deal with problems before they turn into larger significant stressors and difficulties, this would have a profound impact."

About cortisol: Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body in response to anxiety and researchers use cortisol to monitor the biological response to stress.

About bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic depression, is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person's mood can alternate between mania (highs) and depression (lows). These changes in mood, or "mood swings," can last for hours, days, weeks or months.

This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds du Québec en Recherche sur la Société de la Culture.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. S. Ostiguy, M. A. Ellenbogen, C.-D. Walker, E. F. Walker, S. Hodgins. Sensitivity to stress among the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder: a study of daytime cortisol levels. Psychological Medicine, 2011; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291711000523

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Children of bipolar parents are overly sensitive to stress hormone cortisol, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505103343.htm>.
Concordia University. (2011, May 6). Children of bipolar parents are overly sensitive to stress hormone cortisol, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505103343.htm
Concordia University. "Children of bipolar parents are overly sensitive to stress hormone cortisol, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110505103343.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins