Stress under fire–behind the scenes

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Researchers have studied exactly what happens to a soldier when they are under extreme stress and have identified some chemicals that control the process. You have to wonder if some of this research applies to firefighters. From Reuters:

Soldiers who perform best under extreme stress have higher levels of chemicals that dampen the fear response, a finding that could lead to new drugs or training strategies to help others cope better, a U.S. researcher said.

“There are certain individuals who just don’t get as stressed. Their stress hormones are actually lower,” Deane Aikins of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, told reporters Sunday at the American American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Aikins and colleagues at Yale study stress hormone levels of soldiers undergoing survival training, which includes mock prisoner of war experiences.

Blood samples taken from soldiers in the training programs showed those who fared best under extreme stress had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and higher levels of neuropeptide y, a chemical that dampens the body’s stress response.

“All of the recovery hormone systems, all of the systems that turn it down, really kick in for these resilient individuals,” Aikins said.

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