A momentary assessment study on emotional and biological stress in adult males and females with autism spectrum disorder

K. van der Linden*, C. Simons, W. Viechtbauer, E. Ottenheijm, T. van Amelsvoort, M. Marcelis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

Prospective momentary psychological and biological measures of real-time daily life stress experiences have been examined in several psychiatric disorders, but not in adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current electronic self-monitoring study examined associations between momentary daily life stressors and (i) negative affect (NA; emotional stress reactivity) and (ii) cortisol levels (biological stress reactivity) in males and females with ASD (N=50) and without ASD (N=51). The Experience Sampling Method, including saliva sampling, was used to measure three types of daily life stress (activity-related, event-related, and social stress), NA, and cortisol. Multilevel regression analyses demonstrated significant interactions between group and stress (i.e., activity-related and event-related stress) in the model of NA, indicating stronger emotional stress reactivity in the ASD than in the control group. In the model of cortisol, none of the group x stress interactions were significant. Male/female sex had no moderating effect on either emotional or biological stress reactivity. In conclusion, adults with ASD showed a stronger emotional stress (but not cortisol) reactivity in response to unpleasant daily life events and activities. The findings highlight the feasibility of electronic self-monitoring in individuals with ASD, which may contribute to the development of more personalized stress-management approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14160
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • DAILY-LIFE STRESS
  • ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
  • PSYCHIATRIC COMORBIDITY
  • SEX-DIFFERENCES
  • PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS
  • FUNCTIONING AUTISM
  • PERCEIVED STRESS
  • YOUNG-ADULTS
  • HPA-AXIS
  • REACTIVITY

Cite this