Author Archives: Janine Weisman

Janine Weisman

About Janine Weisman

Janine Weisman is an adjunct journalism professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. She was editor of the Newport Mercury for 13 years and is transitioning to a digital editor role after its acquisition by Gatehouse Media. She is also a freelance contributing writer for New England Psychologist covering stories of interest to licensed psychologists in all six New England states.

Tipping point: Stress affects soldiers and their families #ahcj13

The physical manifestations of stress are something Kenneth Pitts, M.S., research scientist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass., knows a heck of a lot about. A U.S. Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Panama during his 23 years of military service, Pitts opened his talk with a YouTube video portraying how to drive a Hummer in Iraq: Basically, never stop, even if that means bumping other vehicles out of the way and driving the wrong way to avoid encountering an improvised explosive device.

“They think their life depends on it,” Pitts said.

Maintaining that level of alertness has lasting physiological effects, disrupting the body’s levels of the stress hormones adrenaline, prompting the first wave of the fight-or-flight response, and cortisol, which supports the body as it takes action. Cortisol is known to increase the storage of emotional memories.

“You can maintain that 60 miles per hour but you’re going to wear out your car,” Pitts said, noting that chronic stress produces increased inflammation that is linked to heart disease, strokes and autoimmune disorders. Continue reading