Feeling stressed? You're not alone. A recent Gallup poll says eight out of 10 Americans feel so, too.
Chronic stress is fast becoming a public health crisis, according to the American Psychological Association. Studies show stress is rising, willpower is waning and self-care is a diminishing priority for adults and children nationwide.
“Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser's team has scientifically proven how stress limits the body's ability to heal wounds, respond to vaccines, fight infection and maintain a healthy gut.” Click to tweet this story
Thankfully, researchers at The Ohio State University College of Medicine are doing something about it.
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR) at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, is leading a multidisciplinary team of 22 faculty members representing five colleges and nine departments in research efforts to help combat stress in the United States and around the world.
"We believe research is a team sport," Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser says. She also believes pulling multidisciplinary investigators together from all over campus is simply a testament to the spirit of collaboration at Ohio State. And, in true Buckeye fashion, we're leading the way in behavioral health research – together.
Mission Statement: The Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research functions as an incubator to create and disseminate cutting-edge mind-body research that will enhance individual and community health.
9 Departments + 22 Faculty Members
- College of Medicine
- College of Dentistry
- College of Public Health
- College of Arts & Sciences
- College of Education & Human Ecology
- Molecular Biology
Stress and the Human Body
When Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser began her research at Ohio State in the 1980s, the medical community didn't yet recognize that stress could have clinically relevant effects on the immune system. Because of her efforts and those of her colleagues in the IBMR, now we do.
In fact, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser's team has scientifically proven how stress limits the body's ability to heal wounds, respond to vaccines, fight infection and maintain a healthy gut.
- Stress slows wound healing. In both mouse and human models, researchers created small wounds to see how stress affected healing. They found stress can extend the time required to heal wounds by 25 percent or more.
- Stress impairs vaccine responses. Researchers gave the influenza vaccine to men and women who were providing care for a spouse with Alzheimer's. Many of the stressed caregivers were unresponsive to the flu shot – demonstrating how stress can alter the body's ability to respond to important vaccines. In fact, we've shown that even young healthy medical students have delayed responses to vaccines when they're stressed.
- Stress affects fighting off infection. Immunology researchers pushed the limits of basic science to discover how stress inhibits the immune system's ability to respond, making stressed people more likely to get sick - and stay sick.
- Stress affects metabolism in ways that promote weight gain. Recent studies show that when stressed people eat a fast food-type, high-fat meal, they burn fewer calories, oxidize less fat and produce more insulin than non-stressed people. This increases fat storage and promotes weight gain.
Because of IBMR research, the impacts of stress are becoming increasingly clear. But Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser and her team also know that people need to be able to identify strategies to combat stress.
"Close personal relationships are important for health, particularly when we're stressed," she says. And Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser would know. Her research teams were the first to show how loneliness impacts the immune system.