“Life is hard, and so am I / You’d better give me something, so I don’t die.”
[audio:http://hospitalstay.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/01-Novocaine-for-the-Soul.mp3|titles=01 Novocaine for the Soul]
Published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, a new study is trying to develop a way to assess a body’s vulnerability to stress. Headed by Professor Giovanni Fava at the University of Bologna, the research relies upon the idea that allostatic load reflects the cumulative effects of ordinary stress in everyday life. Allostatic load is generally connected to the physiological impact of exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural stimulation caused by repeated or chronic stress. When a person’s exposure to this stimulation exceeds his or her ordinary coping resources, allostatic overload ensues.
Stress-related research generally relies upon the body’s pathophysiological response, or the changes of normal mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions, typically caused by disease or an abnormal syndrome. There has been minimal application in a clinical setting. New research, however, recognizes the assessment of allostatic load from a clinical basis and may provide specification to the fourth axis (psychosocial and environmental factors contributing to disorder) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This study may also supplement the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR), and it may help connect certain neuroendocrine patterns with relevant clinical and research implications.
Ultimately, the research hopes to prevent or decrease the negative impact of excessive stress on health as it manifests itself in everyday life.