Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Break Blues

As I have been diving deeper into my major, many topics have come up in my classes that have sparked my interest.  Most of these topics are closely related to psychological and sociological with some having to revolve around physiological response.  The main concept in this week’s reading assignment that I would like to discuss would be the stress induced sickness phenomenon. 

As a child I used to get sick once a year and during winter break.  I used to always be frustrated about this because I would rather miss a day of class than a day of watching television and playing in the snow. I still get my once a year sickness during winter break but now I am relieved that I’m not missing class.  When I was in high school and the stressors really became inflamed, I began to understand the reasoning behind this coincidental timing of my illness. 

Another topic that interested me was that an increased exposure to stress over time will allow for the illness to become less traumatic.  The example in the book was of the child Danny who got sick a few weeks after he was scolded after his father.  Danny really has no stress in his life so whenever he gets a good dosage of cortisol his body has no way of coping with the stimulation and he easily falls ill.

This winter break is the first time where I have not gotten sick.  I will say that last semester was the most stressed out I have ever been with finals.  I was anticipating a throbbing head and a sky high fever by Christmas.  To my surprise I didn’t even receive a headache or sinus congestion. 

Has anyone else noticed a trend of an increased resistance to physiological effects from stressors?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Nicholas, great post!

    At first I thought that, yes, it makes sense that you didn’t receive a headache or sinus congestion this past winter break because it sounds like your body could have become used to stress after all these school years, therefore causing you to lose the trend of sickness during winter breaks. Flinn says that energy is given to short-term, stress emergency functions “at cost to long-term functions of growth, development, and building immunity” (p. 248), which, although I realized you only describe one incident, confused me a little. But then, as Flinn also notes, your higher stress levels are temporary and so there should be little effect on your health. Of course, there are other explanations for your annual sickness. Maybe the anticipation of sickness during the season makes you even more stressed out, encouraging the sickness? I know that getting sick stresses me out, which doesn’t help to cure the condition at all.

    I think you are partially right when you say that Danny from the Dominica study experienced high cortisol levels when his father yelled at him because he has no stress in his life.

    According to Flinn, stress on the island of Dominica primarily concerns social relationships. This should be true in most areas of the modern world, and it would also explain Danny’s high cortisol levels – his father, someone he would want to please, is unhappy with him.

    Personally, I have always considered stress as a major cause of sickness, probably because it’s a common occurrence in my family and my mother constantly convinces me of it, requiring, above most health practices, that I keep my stress levels low. I rarely get sick but I also rarely get majorly stressed – whether this is a causation or just a coincidence, I’m not sure. But according to the text, I wouldn’t be surprised if my ability to handle stress made a large contribution to my lack of sick days.