Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky On Depression

Published on May 25, 2014 (edited for improved sound: noise and stereo issues, and miscellaneous parts taken out) Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky, posits that depression is the most damaging disease that you can experience. Right now it is the number four cause of disability in the US and it is becoming more common. Sapolsky states […]

Published on May 25, 2014
(edited for improved sound: noise and stereo issues, and miscellaneous parts taken out)

Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky, posits that depression is the most damaging disease that you can experience. Right now it is the number four cause of disability in the US and it is becoming more common. Sapolsky states that depression is as real of a biological disease as is diabetes.


Neurotransmitters

The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in regulating many important physiological (body-oriented) functions, including sleep, aggression, eating, sexual behavior, and mood. Serotonin is produced by serotonergic neurons. Current research suggests that a decrease in the production of serotonin by these neurons can cause depression in some people, and more specifically, a mood state that can cause some people to feel suicidal.

In the 1960s, the “catecholamine hypothesis” was a popular explanation for why people developed depression. This hypothesis suggested that a deficiency of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) in certain areas of the brain was responsible for creating depressed mood. More recent research suggests that there is indeed a subset of depressed people who have low levels of norepinephrine. For example, autopsy studies show that people who have experienced multiple depressive episodes have fewer norepinephrinergic neurons than people who have no depressive history. However, research results also tell us that not all people experience mood changes in response to decreased norepinephrine levels. Some people who are depressed actually show hyperactivity within the neurons that produce norepinephrine. More current studies suggest that in some people, low levels of serotonin trigger a drop in norepinephrine levels, which then leads to depression.

Another line of research has investigated linkages between stress, depression, and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine helps our bodies to recognize and respond to stressful situations. Researchers suggest that people who are vulnerable to depression may have a norepinephrinergic system that doesn’t handle the effects of stress very efficiently.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is also linked to depression. Dopamine plays an important role in regulating our drive to seek out rewards, as well as our ability to obtain a sense of pleasure. Low dopamine levels may in part explain why depressed people don’t derive the same sense of pleasure out of activities or people that they did before becoming depressed.

Human Behavioral Biology

Uploaded on Feb 1, 2011

(March 29, 2010) Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky gave the opening lecture of the course entitled Human Behavioral Biology and explains the basic premise of the course and how he aims to avoid categorical thinking.
Stanford …

Uploaded on Feb 1, 2011

(March 29, 2010) Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky gave the opening lecture of the course entitled Human Behavioral Biology and explains the basic premise of the course and how he aims to avoid categorical thinking.

Stanford University
http://www.stanford.edu

Stanford Department of Biology
http://biology.stanford.edu/

Stanford University Channel on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/stanford

Body and mind

After you—even nervously—assume a confident pose for a meaningful amount of time (studies tested 2 minutes, which was significant enough as you’ll see), your brain will increase your testosterone levels and decrease your cortisol levels. I call this combination the “confidence cocktail,” as lower cortisol makes you calmer and higher testosterone increases your aggressiveness and willingness to […]

After you—even nervously—assume a confident pose for a meaningful amount of time (studies tested 2 minutes, which was significant enough as you’ll see), your brain will increase your testosterone levels and decrease your cortisol levels. I call this combination the “confidence cocktail,” as lower cortisol makes you calmer and higher testosterone increases your aggressiveness and willingness to take risks. This information comes from a very popular TED Talk by Amy Cuddy.power

What to do about it: This is one of the most exciting brain-benders there is. It isn’t a bending of reality as much as it’s your brain changing your reality by altering your hormones!

After standing for two minutes, participants’ testosterone increased by 20% and their cortisol decreased by 25%. Fascinating! Those are significant chemical changes for just two minutes of easy “work!” It’s hard to think of a situation where this couldn’t be used, as confidence is such an integral part of all aspects of life. You can use it for dates, interviews, speeches, and social gatherings.

A 2 minute confidence pose mini habit is worth considering, as it’s an easy and effective way to temporarily boost confidence.

 

Prolonged, sustained, excessive stress and your similar response to it, not only causes deterioration of your brain, but it also compromises your immune system; your ability to fight off diseases.

Thousands of years ago, we mostly lived until we either starved, were accidentally poisoned or we were eaten by another animal. Now, we have the distinct ability to slowly kill ourselves over a period of about 80 years with chemical laced foods, too much alcohol and prolonged reaction to stressful events. All are avoidable, if we make the choice to do so.

Unfortunately, most of the people who really need the information in this documentary will never see it and the vast majority who do see it will ignore it. Only those determined to live a quality life for as long as possible will pay attention to this video.

At the present time, 1 in 4 of us will die in a state of dementia or with Alzheimer’s. If you want to increase your odds against that happening, then watch this video, pay attention to it, re-watch it several times and invest in a scientifically proven brain fitness program.

National Geographic documentary followed neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky of Stanford as he studied a baboon troop
over a period of 2-3 decades. The baboons with more stress were found to have shortened telomeres.
When a disease struck the troop from eating infected meat – the most stressed baboons died while the others survived. An interesting side note is that the alpha males were the ones that died. The beta males and females survived. Sapolsky said the supportive bonding of the beta males and females activated the regrowth of telomeres with the enzyme known as telomerase. Stress was the deciding factor of life or death for the troop.

In summary: Stress shortens telomeres, and shortened telomeres can kill you.