Stress responses, typically popularized as outdated reactions to stressors such as cave bears, are far too brief and infrequent to make us sick. Yet, science still focuses on these responses, failing to explain the chronic high stress levels that can influence health and cause disease.
The stress response system is highly adaptive, and has kept humans, zebras, and calves alive through history. But today it leaves humans in distress, whereas zebras are fine. And calves suffer stress as humans do… but for a different reason: humans themselves.
Our world may seem unpredictable and uncertain, especially when others are involved. When interacting with others, we cannot know for sure what they may be thinking or planning to do, but we do a good job guessing. This may not be so easy for everyone…
A year ago, I received great news: I’d been awarded a Rubicon grant! This grant enabled me to work with Prof. Daniel Pine, based at the National Institute of Mental Health (US). But how could I perform an innovative, international scientific project in a pandemic?
When people in movies shake hands or crowd into elevators, do you think 'No! Keep back!'? I do. And it’s not just me. Apparently the Corona-induced fear of human contact is already wired in our brains. In this pandemic, will it be a case of survival of the most anxious?
Mental health problems are difficult to signal. Fortunately our awareness about many mental health problems has increased somewhat in recent years. But are we sensitive to anxiety disorders, the most common mental health disorder over the lifespan?
Growing up, kids get attached to their caregivers, who help regulate their emotions. But they may also experience trauma, e.g. sexual abuse, depression, or anxiety. Our central question was therefore “How do attachment, trauma, and emotion regulation correlate?