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when the road unwinds

October 26, 2012

I kind of just felt like people should know this. Because I didn’t, and it was shocking, especially the permanent genetic alteration and DNA damage that is possible. Also, I am in school fulltime. So this is the kind of writing you get out of me right now.

Selah.

 

Question
What kind of damage does stress cause?
Prediction
I would imagine that prolonged stress causes all sorts of damage. The chemicals released into the system to create the necessary ‘fight or flight’ responses are probably not good for you if they are there for long periods of time. I have learned that they can weaken the immune system, which probably leads to all sorts of illnesses.
Summary from the Text
No information specific to these questions in the text.
Summary of article #1 (with citation)
This article references multiple studies that have shown the many health risks associated with chronic stress. Between relaxed and stressed out subjects, it was found that only 38% of stressed people produced an adequate antibody response compared to 66% of their relaxed counterparts, putting them at greatly increased risk for disease and illness. Another study found that stress impacts the body’s ability to heal itself, discovering that stressed out people can take up to twice as long to heal from injuries. The article says that these immune and healing processes are reduced because stress naturally elicits an immune response from the body, and prolonged periods of this immune response hamper the body’s ability to fight infection and heal wounds, and also increases the risk of illness such as heart disease, allergies, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases. 
Citation
Stress Can Lower Influenza Vaccine’s Effectivness
by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, et al, 1999.
(link to study: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/vacflu.htm)
Summary of article #2
This article presents information from a research study that has found an association between chronic stress and chromosomal damage. Researchers discovered that consistently elevated adrenaline levels can eventually cause DNA damage, caused by the creation of biological pathways that result in accumulated chromosomal deterioration. The prevalence of a specific protein, P53, called the ‘guardian of the genome’ for its ability to suppress genetic abnormalities, is lowered by chronic stress hormones. This opens up the way for all sorts of conditions and disorders to wreak havoc, from the stress related graying hair to malignant tumors. 
Assessment of validity
These articles were both published by trusted scientific mediums, and all research referenced was clearly cited and easily accessible for double checking. 
Reflection on your prediction
While I began this research aware of the immune system deficiencies that chronic stress can create, I did not know that it could create permanent damage to actual DNA. 
Application to your life
I am going to allow for more time to relax. I am not going to ‘make’ time, I am going to simply let it happen. When I feel my mind and body clenching up with stress or wearing down from exhaustion I am going to just let things go and rest. This research has shown me that straight As are for several years of my life, but stress damage is forever. Frightening.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=stress-dangers
http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/news/at-last-a-reason-why-stress-causes-dna-damage

 

Question
What makes some people have great resilience to stress ?
Prediction
I think that there are probably both biological and environmental differences between people that cause them to process stress differently. Some people seem to have more ‘nerves’ than others, and some people have grown up in situations that deal with stress more calmly and productively than others.
Summary of article #1
Exposure to stress causes fundamental changes in the state of the brain, but the brain’s response to stress differs from person to person. In people who are more vulnerable to stress the heightened vigilance period caused by increased cortisol levels remains long after the stressful stimulus has been removed. This article references a study of a specific andrenergic receptor, (these receptors are the targets for hormones related to adrenaline), which concluded that people with a common variation of this receptor have higher amygdala activity in response to stressful stimuli, leading to heightened responses of fear and the ‘fight or flight’ response. This research presents one biological reason that some people are more traumatized than others by stressful situations. 
Citation
Acute Stress Modulates Genotype Effects of Amygdala Processing in Humans
a study by Helena Cousijn, et al, 2010
(link to study: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9867.full)
Summary of article #2
In a study conducted with rat mothers and pups, a new theory of lifelong stress responsiveness has emerged, tying parenting styles directly to environmentally influenced genetic expression. The study found that the pups of mothers who gave them frequent attention and made it easy for them to nurse were more exploratory, less fearful, and less reactive to stressors as adults. Cementing these findings as the result of imprinting onto the genome is the fact that children of inattentive mothers could recover if they were adopted by a more attentive mother before a key period of development had passed. The study found that pups with attentive mothers had higher concentrations of glucocorticoid receptors, which trigger a compensatory braking action by the hippocampus when the ‘fight or flight’ response has been invoked but is no longer circumstantially necessary. Slower response times of this braking system result in more frightened, cautious, paranoid behaviors. This study proved that early environment has a large part to play in differences between individual reactions to stressful stimuli, even altering fundamental DNA. 
Assessment of validity
Because each of these articles referenced and cited well their own studies and various backup research, I feel that they both have good validity. I cross referenced every scientific term that I didn’t understand, and everything held up under my own research.
Reflection on your prediction
Gloat much? No, but seriously, at this point in my psychology studies I feel sure in most situations that both biological and environmental forces have significant parts to play in almost all, if not all, of our underlying workings. We are a beautiful interplay.
Application to your life
It’s good to know. Honestly I knew, or felt, that there were differences in people’s genetic wiring that predetermine some of them to be more sensitive to stress, and I assumed that part of it had to do with their upbringing, but…I did not know that environment worked so drastically with genetics to create these differences. The main thing I am taking away from this is, if I am ever a mother I am going to be as attentive and nurturing as possible.
http://www.dana.org/news/features/detail.aspx?id=29178
http://www.dana.org/news/brainwork/detail.aspx?id=1386

 

I am

everything up to that point

October 26, 2012

I love helpful technology. Does the microwave beep because it needs us to turn off the heat before our shit gets burnt?

No.

It beeps so we don’t forget we had something in the microwave in the first place.

I am

the easiest thing to do

October 24, 2012

Sliding slick fingertips across perfect polish is my favorite three second heartfluttering affair,

but every morning I want to be elbows deep, so far in my hands find roots, every leaving incomplete without a weeklong grime under my nails.

I am

this feeling that remains

October 11, 2012

September

I am

in passage

October 9, 2012

Opening your mind is like untangling Christmas tree lights.

I am