Monday, March 14, 2011

Social Stress, Identify and Brain Response

Jack Dikian
March 2011

Stein, Vidich and White expressed the concern back in the 1960’s that the advent of a mass society would lead to a loss of identity and hence to widespread anxiety or stress. As well as interest in the relationship between stress or anxiety and identity, research in how the brain responds to social stressors is growing.

How brain responds to social stressors is said to influence the body's immune system resulting in a number of illnesses. George Slavich and Shelley Taylor, of the UCLA, have shown, for example, that individuals who exhibit greater neural sensitivity to social rejection also exhibit greater increases in inflammatory activity to social stress. Chronic inflammation increase the risk of a variety of disorders, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and depression.

The same team suggests that exposure to large amounts of social stress can make the brain respond by modifying the way the immune system responds to threats. These modifications can open the way for numerous diseases or infections to set in, which is why eliminating social stress should become a priority for most people.