Sunday August 25, 2019

Social Isolation Can Lead to Increase in Stress

Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

0
//
But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

The mice isolated for two weeks showed behavioral changes like increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli.

When encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have been socially isolated remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the threat is removed, the research said.

Although the study was done in mice, it has potential implications for understanding how chronic stress affects humans and has potential applications for treating mental health disorders, said lead author Moriel Zelikowsky, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology in the US.

social isolation
A new study suggests meditation can reduce stress and anxiety. VOA

Previous studies have determined that social isolation for two weeks in mice resulted in the upregulation of the signaling molecule neuropeptide, tachykinin 2 (Tac2)/neurokinin B (NkB) — a short protein molecule.

In the new study, published in the journal Cell, the team found that chronic isolation leads to an increase in Tac2 gene expression and the production of a neuropeptide called neurokinin B (NkB) throughout the brain.

But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.

Also Read: Father’s Stress Linked To Kids’ Brain Development

On the other hand, artificially increasing Tac2 levels and activating the corresponding neurons in normal, animals led them to behave like isolated and stressed, the research showed.

Suppressing the Tac2 gene in certain different brain parts, increased fear behaviors, or aggression accordingly, implying that it must increase in different brain regions to produce the various effects of social isolation, the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Stress, Anxiety May Not be as Harmful as You Think: Study

According to the researchers, stress causes harm when it exceeds any level that a person can reasonably absorb or use to build psychological strength, likewise, anxiety becomes unhealthy when its alarm makes no sense

0
Violence

People generally think of stress and anxiety as negative concepts, now new study shows that they often play a helpful, not harmful, role in our daily lives.

“Many Americans now feel stressed about being stressed and anxious about being anxious. Unfortunately, by the time someone reaches out to a professional for help, stress and anxiety have already built to unhealthy levels,” said study researcher Lisa Damour, private-practice psychologist from the US.

Stress usually occurs when people operate at the edge of their abilities — when they push themselves or are forced by circumstances to stretch beyond their familiar zones.

It’s also important to understand that stress can result from both bad and good events. For instance, being fired is stressful but so is bringing a baby home for the first time.

Anxiety, too, gets an unnecessarily bad rap, said the study.

brain
Today, one in three teens between the ages of 13 and 18 has an anxiety disorder. Pixabay

“As all psychologists know, anxiety is an internal alarm system, likely handed down by evolution, that alerts us to threats both external — such as a driver swerving in a nearby lane — and internal — such as when we have procrastinated too long and it’s time to get started on our work,” Damour said.

“Similarly, if a client shares that she’s worried about an upcoming test for which she has yet to study, I am quick to reassure her that she is having the right reaction and that she will feel better as soon as she hits the books,” she added.

Also Read: Fake News on Jammu and Kashmir Fanning Hatred

According to the researchers, stress causes harm when it exceeds any level that a person can reasonably absorb or use to build psychological strength, likewise, anxiety becomes unhealthy when its alarm makes no sense.

“Untreated stress and anxiety can cause persistent misery but can also contribute to a host of additional psychological and medical symptoms, such as depression or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease”, Damour added. (IANS)