Should we De-stress the Distressed?
Summary by: Mervyn Singer
There is a rich literature showing excess stress – psychological, pharmacological or physiological – results in similar physical and cognitive manifestations. Critical illness is the perfect example of this manifestation of decompensated stress (“allostatic overload”). Failed organs frequently look normal histologically yet are functionally inactive, despite many varied insults/stressors triggering the failure. These organs regain their functionality prior to patient recovery suggesting, in most cases, reversibility. If this hypothesis were true, de-stressing manoeuvres should improve outcomes … and they do, at least in specific human conditions and animal models. Grasping this concept offers a much more holistic approach than we use at present and may lead to improved outcomes.