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Stress-related physical and mental disorders: a new paradigm

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Uriel Halbreich
MD, is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Bio-Behavioral Research at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY-AB), USA. He is Founding Chair of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Section on Interdisciplinary Collaboration. His research embraces the biology of affective disorders and the development of biological markers and clinical laboratory tests for major depressive disorder, and hormonal modulation of brain and behaviour via gonadal hormones and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal system neurotransmitters and their metabolites.
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Stress-related disorders are diverse and they may be mental and physical. Often, several body systems and organs are involved simultaneously. The pathophysiology of stress-related disorders involves many factors: an observable or perceived stressor, an individual dynamically evolving vulnerability and maladaptation leading to imbalance, as well as environmental, cultural, gender and life-cycle variables. There is a need to develop a comprehensive quantifiable stress assessment instrument. It would be based on the ‘stress factor’, a dimension that would integrate biological, psychological, social, economic and spiritual parameters and would allow for cultural sensitivity. It would contribute to clinical operational sophistication and would illuminate treatment options and multidimensional well-being interventions. Hopefully, it would facilitate development of culturally sensitive pharmaceutical or biophysiological adaptogens and homeostatic interventions.

Copyright © The Author 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

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