A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

May 3, 2008

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Jen told me I should check out this book because it was part of her reading for her Masters of Social Work program.  Sapolsky is an entertaining and fun author and the book breaks down the scientific and physiological aspects of stress response in a way that is easily understood for people like me who don't know much about the subject.  I actually kind of understand neurotransmitters now - I'm dangerous.

Something you should know before embarking on this book, though, is that it's mostly 300+ pages of why stress is bad for you, in a lot of detail.  During the book Sapolsky often refers to the final chapter in which he will give some tips on what can be done to cope effectively with stress.  When you get there, though, it really isn't very empowering.  Most of the tips come with caveats and qualifications and frankly the chapter is a drop in the bucket of bad news you've been reading up to that point.  So you should just know that going in.


Aaron said...

So, can you save me the time and just tell me why zebras don't get ulcers? I mean, that's a pretty stressful environment in which the wild ones live, what with the lions and hyenas and all.

Of course, as far as I know, stress is not the major cause of peptic ulcers, so maybe that's why zebras don't get them, despite their high stress levels.

Am I getting close?

./dave said...

It basically has to do with the kind of stress that animals experience in the wild - short spurts caused by some immediate threat followed by a return to normal stress levels. A recurring theme in the book is that many of our health problems are caused by chronic stress where we're activated in almost a constant state.

kristin said...

Ulcers can also be caused by a virus called H. pylori. Forget about destressing; just go to the doc for some drugs. ;)