Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 10 Sep 2019 Stress levels are de ...

Stress levels are determined by this brain protein

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | Edited by : DRISHTI VANJANI
Published Sep 10, 2019, 4:48 pm IST
Updated Sep 10, 2019, 4:48 pm IST
Researchers seem to have cracked how brain proteins reflect our stress levels.
Work stress is a major concern and needs to be addressed effectively. (Photo: Representational/Pexels)
 Work stress is a major concern and needs to be addressed effectively. (Photo: Representational/Pexels)

Stress. If there’s one thing most of us experience at work, it has to be this notorious evil. Every day, new discoveries are being made about psychological factors that dictate stress. A recent study conducted by researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia suggests that targeting a specific receptor protein in the brain can be effective in treating stress.

Initially, the researchers used forced swim tests on rats to check how resilient or vulnerable they were to stress. They focused on sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 3 (S1PR3), a lipid molecule found on cell membranes. While scientists are aware of its role in inflammation and other body functions, there was little clarity on its involvement in brain.

 

It was found that rats with higher levels of S1PR3 were more resilient compared to the ones that were vulnerable. Thus, they concluded that increasing the protein level in brain would make organisms more resilient to stress, while decreasing it would make them more vulnerable to stress.

However, since rats and humans are different, the team next visited the Veteran's Affairs hospital. They took samples of blood of people who had been in combat to check the level of S1PR3 present.

Combat vets with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had lower levels of S1PR3 compared to those who didn’t have PTSD. This implied that S1PR3 could be a potential biomarker for PTSD, because the more severe the PTSD symptoms were, it was marked by lower S1PR3 levels.

Work environments can often be toxic and take a toll on our mental health. Chronic work stress can be hard to deal with, with bosses or co-workers being repeatedly aggressive. So much so, that sometimes your office is nothing less than a sort of battlefield. PTSD from workplace can develop if you stay in such environments for long periods.

So this particular discovery seems to be very helpful, because it can help in determining an effective way to combat work stress. As this protein is a valid biomarker, it’ll help in evaluating potential stress treatments.

Workers can maximise performance by going for a S1PR3 screening and focusing on treatment. They can switch jobs if the current one is to stressful. For employers, knowing how many people have low S1PR3 levels is essential to make necessary operational changes. The screening can also help in initiating mental health talks, something that most of the companies evidently ignore.

To conclude, while stress is often looked at subjectively, some quantification helps in figuring out new treatments. So incorporating S1PR3 screenings is a good way to help both employees and employers alike, for the benefit of the organisation.

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