Category Archives: Stress

How Work-Life Imbalance Makes You Sick

Dr. Sheldon Cohen‘s keynote presentation at the 8th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine was published in International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2005 Vol 12 No 3, 123-131).

Cohen summarized 20 years of research on psychosocial influences on infection susceptibility.

Cohen also debunks these pervasive myths of stress and disease:

  • Myth: Infectious disease-causing agents is wholly responsible for causing infectious disease.
  • Myth: Stress suppresses the immune system, which makes us susceptible to infections and disease.
  • Myth: Stress overstimulates cortisol production, which leads to susceptibility to disease.

According to Cohen’s article, infectious disease-causing agents are not sufficient causative agents for disease. Our immune system’s modulating responses against viruses in our body determine whether we become infected.

We would also assume that health-related behaviors like smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep, exercise, and diet contributed to disease susceptibility. Cohen has observed that these behaviors were independent of susceptibility to the common cold across five different strains of viruses (including 3 rhinovirus types).

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Let Me Count the Ways to a Heart Attack

gif_heart.gif I don’t know what’s going on, but October has been a productive month for studies that show different ways to get heart attacks. For example, in addition to the “traditional way” of getting a heart attack, you can also get a heart attack by:

Undergoing prostate cancer therapy (consumer news / original research), speculated to be due to androgen deprivation – a key strategy in treating androgen (hormone) dependent prostate cancer.

100364003171311.gif Being in a bad relationship (consumer news / original research), which made a lot of sense because relationships that cause you to engage in vein-bulging screaming matches probably require your heart to work in overdrive to supply all that blood coloring your face red and engorging your vessels.

gif_people-198.gif Working in a stressful job (consumer news / original research). Here’s what I don’t get: WSJ’s blog entry stated that, “Thankfully, a majority of those who survive heart attacks are able to return to work, other studies suggest.” Huh? If your job is so stressful that it gave you a heart attack, why on earth would you want to return to that job? “Whatever doesn’t kill you make you stronger?”

Interview on Self-Injury

Dr. Jane Chin: What are the biggest misconceptions or “myths” people have about self-injury?

Dr. Deborah Serani: I’d have to say that the biggest misconception about self-injury is that most people think that those who cut or self-injure are suicidal. Though any behavior that puts a person in harm’s way requires clinical evaluation, the basic reason individuals cut or self-harm comes from the wish “to control” or to “numb away feelings.”

Dr. Chin: Why is cutting or self injury such a difficult subject for people to talk about?

Dr. Serani: There is a lot of shame associated with this behavior. Seeing the scars or scabs serves as reminder to the person that they cannot find a better way to move through pent up feelings. They feel like they have failed or are flawed in some way, which exacerbates there negative feelings even more. Continue reading