01 January 2012

How well does social support lower your stress level?

According to a study of 194 young German males having a particular genetic configuration at one position on the number 3 chromosome has a strong influence on how well you respond to social support in a stressful situation.

"Only individuals with one or two copies of the G allele of rs53576 showed lower cortisol responses to stress after social support, compared with individuals with the same genotype receiving no social support."
The introductory paragraphs of the article give the information that:
"In recent studies, the A allele of rs53576 has been associated with reduced maternal sensitivity to child behavior, lower empathy, reduced reward dependence, lower optimism and self-esteem, and, in men, negative affect. Moreover, the A allele has also been associated with a larger startle response and reduced amygdala activation during emotional face processing. Associations have also been reported between other variants of OXTR and amygdala volume, risk for autism, the quality of infants’ attachment bonds with their caregivers, attachment anxiety in adult females, and autistic-like social difficulties in adult males."
If I read the study correctly, and if like me (according my results at 23andMe) and 40% of the people in the study, you have both parents with at least one G allele you were raised in a home with a lower susceptibility to stress. According to the article:
"This effect is so robust that even the act of imagining the support of a close other can be an effective buffer against stress."

via Deric Bownds' Mindblog

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