Saturday, April 01, 2006

Loneliness Stress Exercise and The Brain

Social isolation delays the positive effects of running on adult neurogenesis - Nature Neuroscience

So let us imagine for a wee minute what it is like to stop working because of an injury. Imagine the stress that happens when something that brought you great joy now is unavailable to you. Imagine that the people in your life day to day- those that you had hired and developed, those that you had done favours for, those that you had supported with you work, suddenly saw you as a non-entity. As a drain on the company because of insurance and bonus issues. As a faker or exaggerator. Imagine that while this is going on you are forced to go to a company doctor to male sure that you are not malingering. He takes your leg and in one quick move he crushes it into your mid section at which point you groan/scream in pain. This is satisfactory to the doctor, who concurs that your pain is real. You are writhing in pain inside and your whole body is trembling while you try to get dressed and listen to him. You tell him about a treatment that is the only hop on the horizon for relief, and he says yes it may help. You tell him that the insurance company case manager told you to go through public health care because they do not cover this. The wait list is 22 months. The company doctor used to work for this insurance company, and he knows the doctor providing treatment. He calls the office 1600 km away, and speaks with the injection doctor's wife, who is also the office manager. She says that yes he does take insurance company patients, and he thanks her. He then tries to call the company to find out what the heck is going on. There is no answer so he leaves a message. Then he calls the insurance company case manager. The conversation does not go well. The doctor identifies himself, why he is calling and then asks the case manager why he is screwing the patient. The case manager blusters that he will not be spoken to this way. (apparently he is the only one allowed to speak that way in his dealings with clients.) The doctor then rephrases the question with gentler wording but still in an indignant tone. The case manager says they do not fund experimental treatment. The conversation with the injection doctor's wife is brought up. The call gets more heated. The doctor tells the case manager to call one of the insurance company docs to get this expedited, and tells him that it has been covered before, and he too will be calling the insurance company doc on this matter. "Fine, you do whatever," says the case manger. The doctor gets off the phone. The patient and his wife tell the doctor that this is typical of their interactions with this person, the difference is they have much less sway than a real doctor.

This is how the story starts on a contentious long term claim...The treatment does get approved within a very short period of time, but then there are further delays.

That is for another post.

Imagine the stress that the body and mind of this person is going through in a most vulnerable time in their life. Now imagine what happens to the brain. Would positive thinking help? Not so much. Would a sense of control help- maybe. This point is moot though, as the insurance company model is one which keeps the control as far away from the client as possible. Would friends and family help- not as much as being able to return to a meaningful work environment.

Does exercise help....For the first time it looks like shit piled on shit is not conducive to exercise having a particularity positive effect on the body during times of social isolation....

Nature Neuroscience 9, 526 - 533 (2006) Published online: 12 March 2006; doi:10.1038/nn1668
Social isolation delays the positive effects of running on adult neurogenesis
Alexis M Stranahan, David Khalil & Elizabeth Gould
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton NJ 08544.Correspondence should be addressed to Elizabeth Gould
Social isolation can exacerbate the negative consequences of stress and increase the risk of developing psychopathology. However, the influence of living alone on experiences generally considered to be beneficial to the brain, such as physical exercise, remains unknown. We report here that individual housing precludes the positive influence of short-term running on adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus of rats and, in the presence of additional stress, suppresses the generation of new neurons. Individual housing also influenced corticosterone levels├é┬Śrunners in both housing conditions had elevated corticosterone during the active phase, but individually housed runners had higher levels of this hormone in response to stress. Moreover, lowering corticosterone levels converted the influence of short-term running on neurogenesis in individually housed rats from negative to positive. These results suggest that, in the absence of social interaction, a normally beneficial experience can exert a potentially deleterious influence on the brain.


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