Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Stress and the Immune System: Dr Robert Ader

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Thirty five years ago, Robert Ader, PhD serendipitously discovered a key part of our physiology that was not thought to exist.  The story begins with rats drinking water sweetened with saccharine.  Half the rats were simultaneously given low doses of Cytoxan to cause stomach pain.  (Cytoxan is a chemotherapy drug for cancer.)  It was no surprise that soon the rats associated the sweetened water with the pain and refused to drink it.


Stress Illness Haiku

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Haiku are three line poems of 5, 7 and 5 syllables first composed in 17th century Japan.  A friend and colleague who writes haiku urged me to give it a try.  I laughed and said the analytic (left) part of my brain is so overused compared to the creative (right) part of my brain that I probably tilt slightly to the left when I walk.  She persisted, though, so I went on to suggest that writing bad haiku is probably one of the easiest tasks in literature and writing good haiku one of the most difficult.


Kroenke & Mangelsdorff (2)

Friday, January 8th, 2010

To continue discussion of the Kroenke & Mangelsdorff research*, let’s begin by looking at what  became of all 567 symptoms (in 380 patients).  For 2/3 of the symptoms, doctors did diagnostic testing or referred to a specialist.  In the other 1/3, no evaluation was done beyond the initial visit.  Treatment was recommended for only 55% of symptoms, and this took the form of a prescription in over ¾ of cases.  There was nothing to suggest that anyone searched for hidden stresses linked to the symptoms (posts tagged with “Stress History” explain how this is done).


Kroenke & Mangelsdorff (1)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of one of the most frequently quoted studies in the stress illness literature.  The paper reports a discovery that would have shocked me if I had read it during my training years.  Their finding has profound implications for primary care practice.


Stress and Disease of Body Organs (1)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

My usual focus is on the connection between stress and physical symptoms that are not explained by detectable disease.  However, there is also research showing a link between stress and diseases of body organs.  An earlier post (Adults who had Stress in Childhood (2)) reviewed results  from the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study led by Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda.


The Physiology of Stress Illness (3)

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Evidence of abnormalities in the brain in stress-related illness continues to accumulate.  A recent paper * compared MRI scans in 14 Fibromyalgia (FM) patients and 14 healthy people and found reduced gray matter in pain-processing areas in the brain in the FM group.  The authors wondered whether this reduction in gray matter caused the chronic pain or whether it was a result of chronic pain.


Adults who had Stress in Childhood (4)

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

The long-term effects of childhood stress impact relationships and mood in adults.  The study* described in the last post surveyed 380 women who came to a general medical clinic.  In addition to questions about abuse in childhood, patients were surveyed about whether they had ever experienced intimate-partner violence (IPV) and also about depression.  (The vast majority of those who had experienced IPV were no longer in an abusive relationship.)


Adults who had Stress in Childhood (3)

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Adult patients seen by primary care medical clinicians often are affected by stress in childhood.  Recent evidence of this is a study of 380 women at a medical clinic at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland *.  Their survey asked about physical or sexual childhood abuse and assessed the impact of these on physical symptoms.


Stress Illness in Ancient Times

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Stress-related illness is not a new disease.  Greek physicians of the school of Hippocrates (460 –  377 BCE) recognized a disorder characterized by symptoms commonly seen in stress illness today: palpitations, migrating pain, difficulty breathing, a lump in the throat and others.  This was diagnosed exclusively in women and attributed to the uterus wandering around inside the body.  The Greek word for uterus (hystera) gave the disorder its name, hysteria, and this was a common diagnosis through the early 20th century.  The term was finally dropped by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, replaced with conversion disorder.


The Physiology of Stress Illness (2)

Friday, November 20th, 2009

To review from yesterday’s post, studies have revealed that people with Fibromyalgia (FM) experience pain differently.*  (Studies in other forms of Stress Illness are similar.)  Here are some additional research results that support the idea of altered underlying physiology, presented with minimal jargon.