Emotional Response May Predict Physiological Response to Stress

Posted on March 8, 2011, 6 a.m. in Mental Health Stress

An individual’s emotional response to challenging situations could predict how their body responds to stress. Judith Carroll, from the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues asked healthy middle-aged individuals to complete a speech in the laboratory in front of video camera and a panel of judges. During the speech, they monitored the physical responses to the task and then afterwards asked them about the emotions that they had experienced.  While most people show increases in heart rate and blood pressure when they complete a stressful task, some individuals also exhibit increases in as interleukin-6, a circulating marker of inflammation.  The team found that the subjects who had the greatest increases in this marker are the ones who show the greatest emotional responses to the task.  Writing that: “Individuals differ appreciably in the magnitude of their inflammatory responses to acute psychological stress,” the researchers submit that their “Results raise the possibility that individual differences in affective reactivity contribute to variation in stress-associated disease vulnerability.”

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Judith E. Carroll, Carissa A. Low, Aric A. Prather, Sheldon Cohen, Jacqueline M. Fury, Diana C. Ross, Anna L. Marsland.  “Negative affective responses to a speech task predict changes in interleukin (IL)-6 .”  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 25, Issue 2, February 2011, Pages 232-238.

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