Links for Keyword: Stress

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Susie Neilson Living with anxiety can be tough — your thoughts might race, you might dread tasks others find simple (like driving to work) and your worries might feel inescapable. But loving someone with anxiety can be hard too. You might feel powerless to help or overwhelmed by how your partner's feelings affect your daily life. If so, you're not alone: Multiple studies have shown that anxiety disorders may contribute to marital dissatisfaction. "We often find that our patients' ... partners are somehow intertwined in their anxiety," says Sandy Capaldi, associate director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania. Anxiety is experienced at many different levels and in different forms — from moderate to debilitating, from generalized anxiety to phobias — and its impacts can vary. But psychiatrists and therapists say there are ways to help your partner navigate challenges while you also take care of yourself. Start by addressing symptoms. Because an anxiety disorder can be consuming, it can be best to start by talking with your partner about the ways anxiety affects daily life, like sleeplessness, says Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York. Something as simple as using the word "stress" instead of clinical labels can help too. "Often people may feel a little more comfortable talking about stress as opposed to ... anxiety [disorders]," Borenstein says. Don't minimize feelings. "Even if the perspective of the other person absolutely makes no sense to you logically, you should validate it," says Carolyn Daitch, a licensed psychologist and director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, Mich. Try to understand your partner's fears and worries, or at least acknowledge that those fears and worries are real to your partner, before addressing why such things might be irrational. © 2019 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26456 - Posted: 07.27.2019

By Bridget Alex Whether animal, vegetable, mineral or machine, everything experiences stress — broadly defined as challenges to equilibrium, a balanced state of being. The Human Stress Story In biology, stress is the body’s response to perceived threats to our physical or mental well-being. Moderate amounts are healthy and normal. But too much — or too little — causes problems. Chronic stress is linked to cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression. Stress associated with extreme events such as combat can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD, which affects over 7 million Americans, include flashbacks and hypervigilance long after a trauma. Meanwhile, recent studies show that people who underreact to stress are more likely to have impulsive behavior and substance addiction. The Adaptive Stress Response A 1936 Nature paper launched the field of stress research. In the study, physician Hans Seyle — later called the father of stress — subjected rats to cold, drugs, excessive exercise and other assaults. Whatever the stimuli, the rats exhibited similar physiological effects. Now understood as the stress response, this set of bodily changes is an adaptation that allows animals to focus their energy on survival and forgo other matters such as growth or reproduction. It’s initiated when the brain detects a potential threat and launches a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that affects the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26399 - Posted: 07.09.2019

Ian Sample Science editor If the dead-end job, the pokey flat and the endless failings of the neighbours are getting on your wick, then spare a thought for the dog. In research that confirms what many owners will have worked out for themselves, scientists have found that the household pets are not oblivious to their owners’ anxieties, but mirror the amount of stress they feel. The finding comes from a study of cortisol, a stress hormone, which circulates in the blood and leaves its mark in strands of hair. Over time, as the hormone is bound into the growing hair, each shaft becomes a biological record of the stress an individual experiences. After engaging the willing services of 25 border collies, 33 Shetland sheepdogs, and the animals’ female owners, researchers in Sweden found that higher cortisol in human hair was matched by more of the hormone in the dog hair. All of the dogs lived indoors with their owners. “This is the first time we’ve seen a long-term synchronisation in stress levels between members of two different species,” said Lina Roth, an ethologist who led the work at Linköping University in Sweden. “We haven’t seen this between humans and dogs before.” Roth’s team measured concentrations of cortisol in short strands of hair cut close to the skin in the winter and summer of 2017 and 2018. The link between human and dog cortisol held through the seasons, but was higher in dogs in the winter. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26309 - Posted: 06.07.2019

By Austin Frakt New graduates of Fayetteville State University last month in North Carolina. A college degree is linked to higher life expectancy, but does it cause it?CreditTravis Education is associated with better health outcomes, but trying to figure out whether it actually causes better health is tricky. People with at least some college education have mortality rates (deaths per 1,000 individuals per year) less than half of those without any college education, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, people who are more educated exhibit less anxiety and depression, have fewer functional limitations, and are less likely to have a serious health condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or asthma. But causality runs both ways. People in poor health from a young age may be unable to pursue education as much as those with better health. On the other hand, a person who tends to focus on long-term outcomes may be motivated to develop healthier habits like regular exercise — even if blocked from a pursuit of higher education. Some clever studies have teased out the causal effects of education by exploiting natural experiments. One, by the U.C.L.A economist Adriana Lleras-Muney, relied on state compulsory education laws enacted between 1915 and 1939. These laws required some children to obtain more education than they might have otherwise, resulting in longer lives for those that did so. According to the study, having an additional year of education by 1960 increased life expectancy at age 35 by 1.7 years. Studies that relied on inducements for greater education because of a poor labor market or as a way to avoid the Vietnam draft found that increased education led to better health and a lower likelihood of smoking. This finding is one clue about how education may improve health. It can reduce people’s engagement in risky behaviors, perhaps because those behaviors could threaten the higher income that greater education typically confers. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26289 - Posted: 06.03.2019

By LUKE DITTRICH On Valentine’s Day, 2018, five months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Daniel Phillips stood at the edge of a denuded forest on the eastern half of a 38-acre island known as Cayo Santiago, a clipboard in his hand, his eyes on the monkeys. The island sits about a half-mile off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, near a village called Punta Santiago. Phillips and his co-workers left the mainland shortly after dawn, and the monkeys had already begun to gather by the time they arrived, their screams and oddly birdlike chirps louder than the low rumble of the motorboat that ferried the humans. The monkeys were everywhere. Some were drinking from a large pool of stagnant rainwater; some were grooming each other, nit-picking; some were still gnawing on the plum-size pellets of chow that Phillips hurled into the crowd a half-hour before. Two sat on the naked branch of a tree, sporadically mating. They were all rhesus macaques, a species that grows to a maximum height of about two and a half feet and a weight of about 30 pounds. They have long, flexible tails; dark, expressive eyes; and fur ranging from blond to dark brown. Phillips’s notebook was full of empty tables. There were places for the monkeys’ ID numbers, which were tattooed on their chests and inner thighs, places for a description of their behavior, places for the time of day. There was a place for his own name, too, and he wrote it at the top of each page. Daniel Phillips is not a Puerto Rican name, whatever that means, but he was born here, in a big hospital in Fajardo. He arrived more than a month early and spent his first weeks in an incubator, but grew up to be a high school and college wrestler; as a biology major, he became interested in monkeys, and was invited by a primatologist from Duke University to take a job as a research assistant here on Cayo Santiago.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26238 - Posted: 05.15.2019

By: Michael Miller, M.D. W e’ve known for decades that smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes account for most cardiovascular problems. But it wasn’t until publication of the Interheart study (25,000 volunteers spanning 52 countries) that emotional stress was identified as another key risk factor, accounting for about one-third of heart attacks and strokes. Previously, in the 1970s, when volunteers were asked to begin to count to 100 and then to serially subtract seven’s in quick succession (in a test of “mental stress”), blood vessels constricted as if they had taken and failed a cardiac stress test. Except in these cases, testing occurred at rest. In other words, external stressors that are not effectively managed have direct internal implications by placing undue stress on the heart. Fast forward from the 1970s to the present era, and a recent study of more than 135,000 men and women in Sweden that found a history of stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by more than 60 percent within just the first year of diagnosis. Mechanistically, the underlying cause of a heart attack is a sudden rupture of an unstable plaque within a coronary artery. During stressful situations, the “fight-or-flight” response jumps into full gear, releasing biochemical compounds such as adrenaline, which raises heart rate and blood pressure, and signals platelets to release a chemical, neuropeptide Y, that can cause spasm and transient occlusion of the coronary artery. © 2019 The Dana Foundation

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26221 - Posted: 05.09.2019

By Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi In 1945, Dorothy Still, a nurse in the United States Navy, met with a Navy psychiatrist to discuss disturbing symptoms she had been experiencing. Miss Still was one of 12 Navy nurses who had been held prisoner of war by the Japanese military in the occupied Philippines during World War II. For more than three years, Miss Still and the other nurses had provided care to diseased, starving and destitute civilian inmates in a makeshift infirmary at the P.O.W. camp. In the months after liberation, Miss Still found she often cried without provocation and had trouble stopping her tears. She most likely suffered from what today we could call post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Navy psychiatrist offered no support or solutions. Instead, he called her a “fake” and a “liar.” Nurses, he claimed could not suffer the kind of shell shock from war that sailors or soldiers could. Mental health experts now recognize that PTSD can indeed affect nurses, both military and civilian. As many as 28 percent of nurses experience PTSD at some point in their careers, said Meredith Mealer, an associate professor at the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado, Denver, though health care providers still often struggle to treat it. “It’s probably improved from Dorothy’s experience, but we still have a ways to go,” Dr. Meal. PTSD, as defined by the DSM-5, the psychiatric professions’ official manual of mental health disorders, can arise after a person has been exposed to a traumatic event, typically involving or threatening death, injury or sexual violence. Someone might experience the trauma first-hand or witness it happening to someone else, learn it happened to a loved one or repeatedly hear details about a violent event. The result can be intrusive symptoms such as unwanted memories, nightmares, flashbacks and overwhelming feelings of stress when exposed to reminders of the event. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26213 - Posted: 05.07.2019

By Niraj Chokshi Americans are among the most stressed people on the planet, according to a new survey. And that’s just the start of it. Last year, Americans reported feeling stress, anger and worry at the highest levels in a decade, according to the survey, part of an annual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 people around the world, released on Thursday. “What really stood out for the U.S. is the increase in the negative experiences,” said Julie Ray, Gallup’s managing editor for world news. “This was kind of a surprise to us when we saw the numbers head in this direction.” For the annual poll, started in 2005, Gallup asks individuals about whether they have experienced a handful of positive or negative feelings the day before being interviewed. The data on Americans is based on responses from more than 1,000 adults. In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day” prior, compared with just 35 percent globally. Statistically, that put the country on par with Greece, which had led the rankings on stress since 2012. About 45 percent of the Americans surveyed said they had felt “a lot” of worry the day before, compared with a global average of 39 percent. Meanwhile, the share of Americans who reported feeling “a lot” of anger the day before being interviewed was the same as the global average: 22 percent. When Gallup investigated the responses more closely, it found that being under 50, earning a low income and having a dim view of President Trump’s job performance were correlated with negative experiences among adults in the United States. But there still isn’t enough data to say for sure whether any of those factors were behind the feelings of stress, worry and anger. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26172 - Posted: 04.25.2019

By Dave Philipps Post-traumatic stress disorder has long been one of the hardest mental health problems to diagnose because some patients try to hide symptoms while others exaggerate them. But a new voice analysis technique may be able to take the guesswork out of identifying the disorder using the same technology now used to dial home hands-free or order pizza on a smart speaker. A team of researchers at New York University School of Medicine, working with SRI International, the nonprofit research institute that developed the smartphone assistant Siri, has created an algorithm that can analyze patient interviews, sort through tens of thousands of variables in their speech and identify minute auditory markers of PTSD that are otherwise imperceptible to the human ear, then make a diagnosis. The results, published online on Monday in the journal Depression and Anxiety, show the algorithm was able to narrow down the 40,500 speech characteristics of a group of patients — like the tension in the larynx and the timing in the flick in the tongue — to just 18 relevant indicators that together could be used to diagnose PTSD. Based on those 18 speech clues, the algorithm was able to correctly identify patients with PTSD 89 percent of the time. “They were not the speech features we thought,” said Dr. Charles Marmar, a psychiatry professor at N.Y.U. and one of the authors of the paper. “We thought the telling features would reflect agitated speech. In point of fact, when we saw the data, the features are flatter, more atonal speech. We were capturing the numbness that is so typical of PTSD patients.” As the process is refined, speech pattern analysis could become a widely used biomarker for objectively identifying the disorder, he said. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26164 - Posted: 04.22.2019

Maanvi Singh People coping with psychological trauma have a heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a large-scale study finds. Researchers used national health registers to identify 136,637 Swedish patients with no history of cardiovascular disease who were diagnosed with a stress-related disorder — a cluster of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, triggered by acute trauma — from 1987 to 2013. The team compared each of these patients with siblings and with unrelated people of the same age and sex, both of whom had a clear bill of mental and heart health. In the patients’ first year after being diagnosed, those with a stress-related disorder had a 64 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than their siblings without a mental health diagnosis, and a 70 percent higher risk than unrelated patients, the scientists report. The cardiovascular disease accounted for included heart failure, arrhythmia, stroke, hypertension and heart attack. The study found that those with a stress-related disorder were most vulnerable in the year following their mental health diagnosis: They had four times the relative risk of heart failure compared with their siblings. After one year, the patients with a stress diagnosis had a 29 percent higher risk for all cardiovascular disease than their siblings. Over the course of 27 years, 10.5 percent of patients with stress-related disorders developed cardiovascular disease — compared with 8.4 percent of the sibling group and 6.9 percent of the general population group. The study, published April 10 in the British Medical Journal, builds on a growing body of research linking mental health with heart disease. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 26143 - Posted: 04.16.2019

/ By Dan Falk It’s been 30 years since Bobby McFerrin urged us, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” But it’s not so easy, is it? In the modern world, there’s plenty that you could worry about — but what should you worry about? If you worry about everything, you end up paralyzed with fear; if, on the other hand, you never worry about anything, you’re likely to end up falling victim to circumstances that you could have prevented. We should only worry about things that are likely to happen, and which are likely to cause serious harm if they do happen — and which you can take reasonable measures to prevent from happening. Lise Johnson and Eric Chudler have written a new book to help you navigate the worrysphere. Johnson is a biomedical engineer and a science writer and Chudler is a neuroscientist, and together they lead us on a tour of 58 things that one might potentially worry about, and try to assess how much those things are actually worth worrying about. The authors shine a spotlight on everything from caffeine, fluoride, and the Ebola virus to bees, snakes, public restrooms, and cruise ships. If it were only a list, I suspect they’d have had trouble getting a book deal — but fortunately it’s more than that. The authors have found a nifty way of presenting the variables in graphic form (what they call a “worry index”), displaying each worry-item as a circle on a Cartesian graph: Likelihood is plotted on the x-axis, and preventability on the y-axis; meanwhile, the size of the circle reflects the consequences, or the severity, of the issue. For example, a flesh-eating infection gets a pretty big circle — the disease can be fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, your chances of getting it are very low, so the circle is placed on the far left-hand-side of the graph; and it’s also highly preventable (with good hygiene and prompt medical treatment), so the circle sits high up on the y-axis. In contrast, although “medical errors” get a similar-sized circle, it falls in the lower-right quadrant: Doctors and nurses make mistakes more often than we might imagine, and there’s not much you can do to prevent such errors from happening. Copyright 2019 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26140 - Posted: 04.15.2019

By Paul Raeburn When the brain remembers, proteins in two locations deep within the organ—the amygdala and hippocampus—encode the memory until it is stored, or “consolidated” in the vernacular. Neuroscientists once thought that a memory, when put in its place, became permanent and stable. That’s a problem for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), plagued by crippling, debilitating memories that they cannot shake. “We wish that we could somehow target unpleasant or pathological memories and reduce their emotional strength,” says Bryan A. Strange, founder of the Laboratory of Clinical Science at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. During the past two decades or so, it has become clear that these memories are not fixed and unshakable. They can be manipulated in ways that might ultimately ease the suffering of patients, not just ones with a PTSD diagnosis but also those afflicted by phobias, depression and other stress-related conditions. Strange is among the researchers looking for leads to tamp down toxic memories. He and his colleagues reported in a Science Advances paper on March 20 that the anesthetic propofol can be used to alter such recollections, if administered in the right circumstances. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 26064 - Posted: 03.22.2019

By Achim Peters Although our brain accounts for just 2 percent of our body weight, the organ consumes half of our daily carbohydrate requirements—and glucose is its most important fuel. Under acute stress the brain requires some 12 percent more energy, leading many to reach for sugary snacks. Carbohydrates provide the body with the quickest source of energy. In fact, in cognitive tests subjects who were stressed performed poorly prior to eating. Their performance, however, went back to normal after consuming food. When we are hungry, a whole network of brain regions activates. At the center are the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus. These two regions in the upper brain stem are involved in regulating metabolism, feeding behavior and digestive functions. There is, however, an upstream gatekeeper, the nucleus arcuatus (ARH) in the hypothalamus. If it registers that the brain itself lacks glucose, this gatekeeper blocks information from the rest of the body. That’s why we resort to carbohydrates as soon as the brain indicates a need for energy, even if the rest of the body is well supplied. To further understand the relationship between the brain and carbohydrates, we examined 40 subjects over two sessions. In one, we asked study participants to give a 10-minute speech in front of strangers. In the other session they were not required to give a speech. At the end of each session, we measured the concentrations of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in participants’ blood. We also provided them with a food buffet for an hour. When the participants gave a speech before the buffet, they were more stressed, and on average consumed an additional 34 grams of carbohydrates, than when they did not give a speech. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25987 - Posted: 02.27.2019

By Roni Caryn Rabin A sudden shortage of one of the safest anti-anxiety drugs on the market has spread alarm among people who rely on the medication, buspirone, to get through the day without debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Physicians are also expressing concern, because there is no information about when the supply will resume, making it difficult to manage patients. Shelby Vittek, a 27-year-old writer in New Jersey, fruitlessly called dozens of drugstores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in an attempt to locate the medication after her pharmacist told her the drug was on back-order with no end in sight. She ended up weaning herself off the drug, spreading her last three pills over six days to avoid having to go “cold turkey” before starting a difficult transition to an antidepressant. “I pretty much lost over a month of work, and have just started to feel like myself again,” she said. A 34-year-old New York woman who couldn’t get her buspirone refilled in January said she couldn’t sleep and had such severe panic attacks that she had to use Klonopin, a drug she dislikes because it is addictive. “I’m trying to take care of my anxiety, and it’s giving me a panic attack,” said the woman, a sexual assault survivor who asked not to be identified. A Pennsylvania medical school student received her mail-order shipment of medication last week with no buspirone in it and no explanation, so she scrounged around the house and dug up old pills from missed doses. Last weekend, the student, who asked not to be identified, was so anxious she could not leave the house. “This is potentially messing with people’s clinical stability,” said Dr. Dennis Glick, a psychiatrist in Greenbelt, Md. “When you have a patient with a complicated and balanced regimen, you really don’t want to just arbitrarily have someone come off the medicine.” Dr. Glick said he has been in practice for 34 years “and I honestly don’t recall issues like this interfering with care until maybe a couple of years ago.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25921 - Posted: 02.01.2019

A study has shed light on the neurocomputational contributions to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in combat veterans. The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, revealed distinct patterns for how the brain and body respond to learning danger and safety depending on the severity of PTSD symptoms. These findings could help explain why symptoms of PTSD can be severe for some people but not others. The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health. “Researchers have thought that the experience of PTSD, in many ways, is an overlearned response to survive a threatening experience,” said Susan Borja, Ph.D., chief of the NIMH Dimensional Traumatic Stress Research Program. “This study clarifies that those who have the most severe symptoms may appear behaviorally similar to those with less severe symptoms, but are responding to cues in subtly different, but profound, ways.” PTSD is a disorder that can sometimes develop after exposure to a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience intrusive and frightening thoughts and memories of the event, experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or may be easily startled. While almost half of all U.S. adults will experience a traumatic event in their life, most do not develop PTSD. One theory explaining why some symptoms of PTSD develop suggests that during a traumatic event, a person may learn to view the people, locations, and objects that are present as being dangerous if they become associated with the threatening situation. While some of these things may be dangerous, some are safe. PTSD symptoms result when these safe stimuli continue to trigger fearful and defensive responses long after the trauma has occurred.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 25912 - Posted: 01.29.2019

By Dana G. Smith SAN DIEGO—Robert King spent 29 years living alone in a six by nine-foot prison cell. He was part of the “Angola Three”—a trio of men kept in solitary confinement for decades and named for the Louisiana state penitentiary where they were held. King was released in 2001 after a judge overturned his 1973 conviction for killing a fellow inmate. Since his exoneration he has dedicated his life to raising awareness about the psychological harms of solitary confinement. “People want to know whether or not I have psychological problems, whether or not I’m crazy—‘How did you not go insane?’” King told a packed session at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting here this week. “I look at them and I tell them, ‘I did not tell you I was not insane.’ I don’t mean I was psychotic or anything like that, but being placed in a six by nine by 12–foot cell for 23 hours a day, no matter how you appear on the outside, you are not sane.” There are an estimated 80,000 people, mostly men, in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. They are confined to windowless cells roughly the size of a king bed for 23 hours a day, with virtually no human contact except for brief interactions with prison guards. According to scientists speaking at the conference session, this type of social isolation and sensory deprivation can have traumatic effects on the brain, many of which may be irreversible. Neuroscientists, lawyers and activists such as King have teamed up with the goal of abolishing solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25666 - Posted: 11.10.2018

Laura Sanders SAN DIEGO — Mice yanked out of their community and held in solitary isolation show signs of brain damage. After a month of being alone, the mice had smaller nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Other brain changes followed, scientists reported at a news briefing November 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. It’s not known whether similar damage happens in the brains of isolated humans. If so, the result have implications for the health of people who spend much of their time alone, including the estimated tens of thousands of inmates in solitary confinement in the United States and elderly people in institutionalized care facilities. The new results, along with other recent brain studies, clearly show that for social species, isolation is damaging, says neurobiologist Huda Akil of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “There is no question that this is changing the basic architecture of the brain,” Akil says. Neurobiologist Richard Smeyne of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and his colleagues raised communities of multiple generations of mice in large enclosures packed with toys, mazes and things to climb. When some of the animals reached adulthood, they were taken out and put individually into “a typical shoebox cage,” Smeyne said. This abrupt switch from a complex society to isolation induced changes in the brain, Smeyne and his colleagues later found. The overall size of nerve cells, or neurons, shrunk by about 20 percent after a month of isolation. That shrinkage held roughly steady over three months as mice remained in isolation. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 17: Learning and Memory; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25649 - Posted: 11.06.2018

By Karen Weintraub The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology. The link between high cortisol levels and low performance was particularly strong for women, the study found. But it remains unclear whether women in midlife are under more stress than men or simply more likely to have their stress manifested in higher cortisol levels, says lead researcher Sudha Seshadri. A professor of neurology, she splits her time between Boston University and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she is the founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's & Neurodegenerative Diseases. Working on the study “made me more stressed about not being less stressed,” Seshadri says, laughing. But, she adds, the bottom line is serious: “An important message to myself and others is that when challenges come our way, getting frustrated is very counterproductive—not just to achieving our aims but perhaps to our capacity to be productive.” © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25620 - Posted: 10.26.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar People with high blood levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” may have poorer memory and thinking skills than those with lower levels. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is involved in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, controlling salt and water balance and other body functions. Researchers gave tests for memory, abstract reasoning, visual perception and attention to 2,231 people, average age 49 and free of dementia. They recorded blood levels of cortisol and did M.R.I. examinations to assess brain volume. The study, in Neurology, controlled for age, sex, education, body mass index, blood pressure and many other variables, and found that compared with people with average levels of cortisol, those with the highest levels had lower scores on the cognitive tests. In women, but not in men, higher cortisol was also associated with reduced brain volume. There was no association of the lowest cortisol levels with either cognitive test scores or brain size. The lead author, Dr. Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, said that the study suggests that even in people without symptoms, higher cortisol levels can be significant. Still, he said, “This is an initial study. The next step is a prospective study before we jump to the conclusion that this is really important. It’s premature now to consider intervention.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25616 - Posted: 10.26.2018

By Concepción de León I hear some people have trouble with therapy, that it can take years for them to open up to their doctors, let alone cry or break down. Not me. Day one, I told my therapist, Amy Bernstein, “I’ll just tell you everything, and we’ll go from there.” I was assigned to her after revealing, during an initial interview to determine the appropriate therapist for my needs, that I’d been touched as a child. I hadn’t planned to bring it up at all, but I was asked directly, so I said, yes, you could say that. (At the time, I avoided the word “molested.”) And yes, it still crossed my mind. To be honest, what happened had always felt like such a small thing. Many others have had it much worse; I counted myself lucky for only having been touched in subtle ways — a male relative digging his hands in my tiny skirt pockets to “feel around for change”; another bringing his hand to my crotch when he thought I was asleep. These were two of a handful of men who violated me. Amy recommended books to help me understand what had happened, but I put them down after just a few pages, thinking, “This isn’t for me! My thing is too small.” But then, as tends to be the case with therapy, things got harder before they got better. I returned to one of the books Amy had recommended, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” by Bessel van der Kolk, to try to understand my visceral response to remembering. Dr. van der Kolk is a Boston-based psychiatrist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder and has worked with a broad range of clients, from veterans to sexual assault survivors. “The Body Keeps the Score” hinges on his idea that trauma is stored in the body and that, for therapy to be effective, it needs to take the physiological changes that occur into account. Trauma produces “a re-calibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity” and, also, “compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive,” Mr. van der Kolk writes. For survivors of sexual assault and other traumas, the amygdala, which initiates the body’s fight or flight response system whenever it perceives danger, can remain activated long after the threat has subsided. In the present, survivors relive their traumas in the form of fragmented images, sounds and emotion that the brain can’t register as belonging to the past. Many people also experience dissociation, which can manifest as literal desensitization in parts of the body or the inability to describe physical sensations. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25590 - Posted: 10.18.2018