Is there a way to predict who will be affected from stress the most? Apparently, scientists in Concordia University have discovered a way to identify those most susceptible to stress. “By pinpointing those in the general population who are most vulnerable to stress, we can intervene before they hit the breaking point — and hopefully prevent the negative consequences of stress by doing so. That’s why it’s important to have an objective diagnostic tool like this one,” a researcher says.
Stress can affect us in many ways and every person will not have the same symptoms or signs as someone else. We could start noticing cognitive symptoms such as: memory problems, constant worrying about everything, poor judgment, being unable to see positives in any situation, inability to concentrate and having anxious thoughts.
Some of the behavioral symptoms include: a change in the way we eat-either less or more-, the onset of nervous habits such as nail biting, a change in our sleep patterns and feeling the need to be isolated from other people
In the paper, which was recently published in the journal Stress, professor Jean-Philippe Gouin observed 76 university students during period of lower and higher stress during term time. He found that only some of them developed significant distress throughout the final exam period.
He then recorded the participants’ heart rate variability in times of relaxation but also while they thought about things that worried them the most. The professor and his colleagues also monitored participants’ moods during the beginning of the semester and also right before the exams.
Gouin, explains: “At rest, a more variable heartbeat is a good thing. It shows that your parasympathetic nervous system is hard at work. That’s the system that’s responsible for the ‘rest-and-digest’ state of being — the opposite of ‘fight-or-flight.’ The rest-and-digest phase puts you in a calm state that allows you to conserve and replenish your energy. When you’re facing a real threat in your life, a regular heartbeat helps you deal with the situation. If you encounter a lion in the jungle, you want your heartbeat to stay at consistently high levels so that you can run away as fast as you can.
But if your body shows the same reaction when you worry about something that may or may not happen — like failing an exam — then you might be more susceptible to stress.
“By pinpointing those in the general population who are most vulnerable to stress, we can intervene before they hit the breaking point — and hopefully prevent the negative consequences of stress by doing so. That’s why it’s important to have an objective diagnostic tool like this one”