Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sweating the small stuff: Early adversity, prior depression linked to high sensitivity to stress

29.06.2011
We all know people who are able to roll with life's punches, while for others, every misfortune is a jab straight to the gut. Research examining this issue has found that although most people require significant adversity to become depressed — the death of a loved one, say, or getting fired — roughly 30 percent of people with first-time depression and 60 percent of people with a history of depression develop the disorder following relatively minor misfortunes. But no one knew why.

Now, a new study led by UCLA researchers suggests that people become depressed more easily following minor life stress in part because they have experienced early life adversity or prior depressive episodes, both of which may make people more sensitive to later life stress.

George Slavich, an assistant professor at the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, and colleagues assessed individuals' experiences with early adversity, clinical depression and recent life stress. Slavich found that individuals who experienced an early parental loss or separation and people who had more lifetime episodes of depression became depressed following lower levels of life stress than those who didn't have these predisposing factors.

The study appears in the current online edition of the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

"We have known for a long time that some people are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems than others," Slavich said. "For example, while some people get depressed following a relationship breakup, others do not. In this study, we aimed to identify factors that are associated with this phenomenon and to examine whether increased sensitivity to stress might be playing a role."

The researchers recruited 100 individuals with depression, 26 men and 74 women, and interviewed them extensively to determine what types of adversity they were exposed to when they were young, how many episodes of depression they had experienced and what types of life stress they had encountered recently.

The results showed that people who had lost a parent or had been separated from a parent for at least one year before the age of 18 and individuals who had experienced more episodes of depression over their lifetime became depressed following significantly lower levels of recent life stress.

Additional analysis revealed that these effects were unique to stressors involving interpersonal loss.

"Researchers at UCLA and elsewhere have previously demonstrated that early adversity and depression history are associated with heightened sensitivity to stress," Slavich said. "The present study replicates this effect but suggests for the first time that these associations may be unique to stressors involving interpersonal loss. In other words, individuals who are exposed to early parental loss or separation and persons with greater lifetime histories of depression may be selectively sensitized to stressors involving interpersonal loss."

An important question raised by these findings is how adversity early in life and prior experiences with depression promote increased sensitivity to stress. One possibility, the researchers say, is that people who experience early adversity or depression develop negative beliefs about themselves or the world — beliefs that get activated in the face of subsequent life stress. Another possibility, which is not mutually exclusive, is that early adversity and depression influence biological systems that are involved in depression, perhaps by lowering the threshold at which depression-relevant processes like inflammation get triggered.

"Although many factors impact stress sensitivity," Slavich said, "thoughts almost always play a role. For example, when your best friend doesn't call back, do you think she is angry at you or do you think it just slipped her mind? Our thoughts affect how we react emotionally and biologically to situations, and these reactions in turn greatly influence our health. Regardless of your prior experiences, then, it is always important to take a step back and make sure you are interpreting situations in an unbiased way, based on the information available."

Other authors on the study were Scott M. Monroe, the William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, and Ian H. Gotlib, the David Starr Jordan Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

The study was funded by a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellowship and by the National Institutes of Health. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

The UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology encompasses an interdisciplinary network of scientists working to advance the understanding of psychoneuroimmunology by linking basic and clinical research programs and by translating findings into clinical practice. The center is affiliated with the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and UCLA News|Week follow us on Twitter.

Mark Wheeler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

Further reports about: Psychology Psychoneuroimmunology UCLA biological system

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>