On this week's Shrink Rap Radio, Dr. David Van Nuys interviews Dr. Dennis Charney, a specialist in the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress. His most recent book is Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges.
Resilience is a special issue for men, we tend to be less resilient than our female peers. Overall, more males are conceived, fewer males are born (but still slightly more than females), and by age 45 or 50, females are more plentiful. In the U.S., there are five million more women than men in the 65 and older age group.
A little more on male fragility:
Boys in the U.S. have a 29 percent higher prenatal death rate2 and are 20 percent more vulnerable to infant mortality up to age one.3 Boys tend to be more at risk than girls of being born with birth defects, perhaps because boys tend to develop at a slower pace, leaving more time for potential problems to arise.4The article goes on to list a variety of factors, some biological (chromosomes, hormones, immune system, iron overload, and natural selection), as well as several socio-cultural factors (cultural conditioning, social standing).
As of 2005, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 80.4 for women and 75.2 for men. That means men, on average, die 5.2 years earlier than women.5. This phenomenon is world-wide. Women outlive men almost everywhere in the world.
One of the cultural conditioning factors is what we might call "traditional masculinity."
Differences in what is expected of men and women contribute to variations in mortality. Certain behaviors that are discouraged in women are condoned or even rewarded in men. Men's higher rates of cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, gun use, and risk taking in recreation and driving are partially responsible for their higher death rate.10 Also,men tend to work in more dangerous settings than women and account for 90 percent of on-the-job fatalities.11 Throughout life,men are conditioned to hide feelings of sadness or pain and not to reach out for help. They are less likely to seek medical attention, less likely to seek psychological treatment and more likely to commit suicide. Men take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 79.4% of all U.S. suicides.12Men have a series of biological hurdles to get over, but there is still a lot we can do to improve our resilience.
A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.copyright 2012: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.
Dennis S. Charney, MD is Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Dr. Charney is a world expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. He has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of neural circuits and neurochemistry related to human anxiety, fear, mood as well AS THE discovery of new treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. He later expanded this area into pioneering research related to the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress.
Early in his career, Dr. Charney led a team that determined that the biology of human anxiety disorders were characterized by excessive noradrenergic activity and dysfunction in specific neural circuits including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. His work in depression led to new hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of antidepressant drugs and discovery of new and novel therapies for treatment resistant depression including Lithium and Ketamine, which works within hours.
After decades of work on the biology of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Charney and colleagues have turned their attention toward investigating the psychobiological mechanisms of human resilience to stress. They have found specific hormones and peptides which contribute to resilience and identified a prescription for enhancing human resilience.
A prolific author, Dr. Charney has written more than 700 publications, including groundbreaking scientific papers, chapters, and books. Dr. Charney’s most recent book is Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges.
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