Why Mortgage Sicken Us? 为什么房贷会让我们生病?

Glucocorticoids [1] plus the sympathetic nervous system [2] enables an organism to survive a physical stressor by activating the classical “fight or flight” response. The stress response rapidly mobilizes energy into circulation from storage sites in your body. Furthermore, heart rate and blood pressure increase, delivering that circulating energy to exercising muscles faster. Moreover, during stress, long-term building projects—growth, tissue repair, and reproduction—are postponed until after the crisis; Beta-endorphin is secreted, the immune system is stimulated, and blood clotting is enhanced, all useful following painful injury. Moreover, glucocorticoids reach the brain, rapidly enhancing aspects of cognition and sensory acuity.

Mobilizing energy while sprinting for your life helps save you. Do the same thing chronically because of a stressful twenty-year academic study and thirty-year housing mortgage, and you’re at risk for various metabolic problems, including adult-onset diabetes. Likewise with blood pressure: increase it to sprint across the savanna—good thing. Increase it because of chronic psychological stress, and you’ve got stress-induced hypertension. Chronically impair growth and tissue repair, and you’ll pay the price. Ditto for chronically inhibiting reproductive physiology; you’ll disrupt ovulatory cycles in women and cause plummeting erections and testosterone levels in men. Finally, while the acute stress response involves enhanced immunity, chronic stress suppresses immunity, increasing vulnerability to some infectious diseases.

The suppression of immunity and inflammation during chronic stress is caused by glucocorticoids. This is the reason why glucocorticoids are used to suppress the immune system in people with an overactive immune system (i.e., an autoimmune disease), to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, or to suppress an overactive inflammatory response. This is what happens when people are put on immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory “steroids” like cortisone or prednisone (two synthetic glucocorticoids).

It is rare for one to sicken because they can’t activate the stress response when it is needed. Instead, we get sick from activating the stress response too often, too long, and for purely psychological reasons. Crucially, the beneficial effects of the stress response play out over the course of seconds to minutes. But once you take stress to the time course of this article and thirty-year housing loan term (henceforth referred to as “sustained” stress), you’ll be dealing with adverse consequences.

If you’re stressed in an acute physical crisis, the stress response is lifesaving. But if instead you chronically activate the stress response for reasons of psychological stress, your health suffers.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
—William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act 4, scene 3


1. Critical events in the brain mediate the start of the stress response and activates the amygdala. The amygdala mediates main branch of the stress response, activating the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) in the hypothalamus. And the PVN sends projections to the base of the hypothalamus, where it secretes corticotropinreleasing hormone (CRH); this triggers the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates glucocorticoid secretion from the adrenals.

2. The amygdala also mediates the other main branch of the stress response, activated amygdaloid neurons stimulate brain-stem neurons, which then inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system and mobilize the sympathetic nervous system, releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine throughout the body.










1. 应激反应 stress response就是一连串的神经和内分秘的变化,目的是帮助个体度过危机,并重建恒定状态。应激反应会活化杏仁核,杏仁核会调节一个主要的压力反应分支路径,活化下视丘的旁视核,旁视核反射到下视丘底部,那里会分泌促肾上腺皮质素释放激素(CRH),这里会触发脑下垂体分泌促肾上腺皮质激素ACTH, ACTH会刺激肾上腺分泌糖皮质激素。

2. 应激反应会活化杏仁核,杏仁核也会调节另一个主要的压力反应分支路径,杏仁核神经元刺激脑干神经元,脑干接着抑制副交感神经系统,并启动交感神经系统,于是释放出肾上腺素和去甲肾上腺素到全身。