By George Fink
Stress” has been dubbed the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” by the World Health Organization and is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year. The effect of stress on our emotional and physical health can be devastating. In a recent USA study, over 50% of individuals felt that stress negatively impacted work productivity. Between 1983 and 2009, Stress levels increased by 10 to 30 percent among all demographic groups in the USA.
Numerous studies show that job stress is by far the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but many demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, obesity, addiction, anxiety, depression and other disorders. In New York, Los Angeles and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is recognised, so that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly.
Stress is a highly personalized phenomenon that varies between people depending on individual vulnerability and resilience and between different types of tasks. Thus one survey showed that having to complete paper work was more stressful for many police officers than the dangers associated with pursuing criminals. The severity of job stress depends on the magnitude of the demands that are being made and the individual’s sense of control or decision-making latitude for dealing with the stress.
There is a vast literature on the possible role of stress in the causation and/or exacerbation of disease in most organ systems of the body. Inextricably linked to anxiety, stress plays a pivotal role in mental disorders including phobias, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.
The intense public, research and clinical interest in Stress coupled with our experience with the Encyclopedia of Stress (2000 and 2007) prompted the publication of a multi-authored Handbook of Stress Series comprised of self-contained volumes. The first volume, Stress: Concepts, Cognition, Emotion, and Behavior, created by a galaxy of top experts, focuses on general concepts important to stress biology and the complex relationship between human cognition, emotion, and the manifestation of stress.
As well as stress fundamentals such as allostasis, homeostasis, fight and flight, steroid receptor balance, the cortisol awakening response, stress neural circuitry, developmental and environmental factors, burnout, coping, combat stress, stress in refugees and survivor guilt, aggression and anger, the 60 chapters in this volume cover themes such as the evolutionary origins and functions of the stress response, epigenetics, remodeling of neural networks, effects of stress on memory and learning, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, conservation of resources theory, policing, emotional inhibition, depersonalization, the sinister stress of boredom, and suicide. Brain imaging and especially functional magnetic resonance has enabled a quantum leap in our understanding of brain function in the human and this is reflected in chapters such as fear and the amygdala, effects of chronic stress, and aging and psychological stress.
If you would like to purchase a print copy of Stress: Concepts, Cognition, Emotion, and Behavior, visit the Elsevier Store. Apply discount code STC215 at checkout and save 30% off the list price and free global shipping!
About the Author
George Fink is a neuroendocrinologist and neuropharmacologist. He is Professorial Research Fellow at the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne University at which he is also an Honorary Professor. He is renowned for his research in reproductive neuroendocrinology, the neuroendocrine control of stress, positive and negative hormonal feedback control in neuroendocrine loops, and the effect of sex hormones on central neurotransmission.