Vigorex Adrenal Support Cream
Depression Linked to Cortisol
Scientists at the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital recently
discovered that long-term exposure to stress hormones may be the cause
of some symptoms of depression. Researchers wanted to determine the
exact nature of the long-recognized link between high cortisol levels
and depression. Cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress,
increases blood pressure and blood sugar, preparing the body to deal
with a stressor.
Paul A. Ardayfio, a graduate student at the Harvard Medical School
who ran these experiments as part of his dissertation, explained that
“we’ve known for over a century that chronically high levels of cortisol
were linked to depression, so we decided to test whether or not
cortisol directly caused some symptoms of depression.”
The study found that chronic exposure to cortisol may cause some
symptoms of depression, but did not find evidence that it causes
Ardayfio cautioned against understanding his results as demonstrating a
simple cause and effect relationship. “Depression is a very
heterogeneous disorder and it has many different causes,” he said. “This
may be one part of the puzzle for one particular kind of depression.”
Ardayfio and his advisor, Associate Professor of Psychiatry Kwang-Soo
Kim, tested three groups of mice on a standard anxiety-level test. The
mice were placed in a darkened chamber, allowed to acclimatize
themselves, and were then allowed to explore another brightly lit
chamber. Ardayfio and Kim found that, while normal mice readily explored
the new area, mice which had received long-term doses of the rodent
equivalent of cortisol via drinking water were reluctant to explore and
exhibited symptoms that the researchers characterized as anxiety.
Anxiety in mice placed in this experimental setup generally predicts how
humans will react to stress.
In another experiment, Ardayfio and Kim showed that chronically dosed
mice reacted less strongly to sudden stress, a sign that they were
burnt out. After Ardayfio defends his dissertation next month, he hopes
to study the cellular and molecular pathways associated with cortisol.
He said that such research could lead to novel treatments for
depression. “By examining the real causes of depression, we could make
progress to an effective treatment.”
Yes, stress is contagious. That’s why the American Stress Institute www.stress.org
has recently labeled stress America’s # 1 health problem. And for good
reason, what with impending war, an uncertain economy, the G-forces of
social change, job insecurity . . . it’s no surprise that both a Roper Poll and the federal government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html) found that most Americans felt “seriously stressed” at least once a week.
Stress is a major problem
To be sure, hundreds of credible studies have linked stress to
cancer, heart attacks, compromised immune systems, high blood pressure,
migraines, blood clots, back pain, muscle deterioration, digestive
disorder, and sundry other behaviors like spousal and child abuse. The American Psychological Assn. (www.apa.org/)
reports that workplace assaults as a consequence of “desk rage” now
number in the tens of thousands. One study involving 774 men published
last year in Health Psychology found that hostility and deep pessimism were worse on our hearts, get this, than smoking, drinking, or even being fat!
What is stress?
Stress, as commonly defined is an unnatural result of the very
natural fight-flight adaptability of our ancient progenitors. And what
that means is that once upon a time we humans needed to produce an over
abundance of a cocktail of hormones to help us hype up like action
heroes just before, say . . . killing a mastodon, or maybe beating a
hungry saber-toothed tiger back to the family cave. The trouble is that
today any number of stressful incidents can trigger the same chemical
Only “civilized” society has, for good reason, oodles of assault and
battery laws about assassinating the neighbor’s obnoxious dog—and or,
stalking and slaying his owner because he refuses to do something about
it. So, maybe we spend our time complaining to our wives, husbands,
cops, friends, lawyers, or perhaps just biting our tongues and stewing
in our proverbial juice . . .whatever the case may be, the juice we’re
stewing in is called cortisol. And cortisol kills.
To prove that point, a group of scientists forced a unfortunate deer
to live in close proximity to a ferocious tiger with no obvious chance
of escape. The deer withered and died, his muscles so marinated in
cortisol that they just broke down.
Now, if you ever felt like a deer, (or a dear) caged with a tiger
yourself, you wouldn’t be alone. According to UCLA biologist Jay Phelan,
the chemical reactions of stress passes through the human population
the way a shiver of fear shoots through a herd of grazing animals: “You
can see it in the natural world: it’s an extended warning system.
Animals exquisitely attuned to the stress level of their fellow
creatures protect themselves without actually having to see the source
So, you see, stress is contagious. Just as in the animal kingdom, it
passes from person to person, to person, to person to. . . . . (If you
still don’t believe me just honk your horn for 10 seconds in the middle
of a grid locked intersection at 6 pm and listen to the chorus of horns
it sets off.) The links to, and consequences of, stress, are like
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