Work Schedules for Survivors of Childhood Trauma Using the Stress Hormone Cortisol as an Indicator of Psychosis

Work Schedules for Survivors of Childhood Trauma Using the Stress Hormone Cortisol as an Indicator of Psychosis

Paul Andreas Fischer
11/20/2016
Work Schedules for Survivors of Childhood Trauma Using the Stress Hormone Cortisol as an Indicator of Psychosis
 In order to understand the nature of critical responses to societal pressures, it is first necessary to evaluate the role of various negative outcomes which can be seen even today among functioning members of society. The establishment of such a control has allowed the establishment to flourish, and in order to maximize productivity and well-being a better coherence of the information at hand should be offered. Appropriate labor laws such as the prohibition of child labor, which began in the 1800s but did not meet modern medical standards of adulthood until the 1900s, and the elimination of the total war after the Second World War, have meant that for the first time, the medical community can address all instances of such trauma. There are no longer communities which “simply have to live with it” as a form of treatment as had occurred when labor was frequent for children or excessive work hours for adults. The consequences of elevated cortisol as a result of childhood trauma, forced work, or the number of older methods of inducing this state include physical damage to a specific part of the brain, degradation of memory and functioning, and even psychosis or irrational decision making.
 Some basic trends emerge, primarily that a healthy level of cortisol does indicate better psychological health, and trends across various physical responses as well. This paper will demonstrate that the primary unavoidable cause of increased cortisol extant in today’s society is childhood trauma through parental separation and a history of sexual or physical abuse.
Action and Physiological Response: Permanent and Impermanent Symptoms
 It has been well established that higher levels of cortisol are indicative of a number of societally unacceptable results, which include psychosis and lower left hippocampus volume (Mondelli, 116.2). Loss of parents have been shown to increase cortisol levels in victims even as adults (Nicolson). Parental separation and childhood adversities have also been shown to increase the levels of psychosis, in such a manner as to account for nearly all ER psychosis incidents in any given year (Morgan). This impact is found in victims with a history of sexual or physical abuse (Mondelli, 119.1). There is also evidence of elevated cortisol occurring in the course of a week with excessive stress and disrupted sleep patterns (Dahlgren). It should be noted that adults with PTSD suffer lower levels of cortisol after the initial period of shock, inducing symptoms including low processing speed, metabolism and other factors, though these are also normal responses for victims of head trauma (Cernak).
 Elevated levels of cortisol are a long-term human response to a traumatic incident, especially among those who are young and this is a result of continued changes to the brain which can only be simulated through a specific variety of factors. Concussion would be one of these, and the period of around a week after the initial 3 days of lower cortisol post-head trauma can help to show the physical and psychological impacts of elevated levels of cortisol. After two weeks, the victim would return to normal, which is not something that occurs in victims of childhood trauma. Excessive work schedules have also been shown to induce this increased cortisol release, though recovery can take weeks or months, depending on duration of the effects, and there is no reason that survivors of childhood trauma would not be in the same situation (Steptoe). This is a physical change which has also been found in college students recovering from a romantic break-up (Field).
Effects and Responses
 The use of cortisol to gauge the severity of trauma is not effective, though it does lend credence to the reality of its use for the purpose of evaluation if such an event occurred at all. The psychosis and lower left hippocampus volumes are not the only exhibitions of the damage from such an incident, which has also been shown to cause coronary heart damage (Dahlgren). In order to evaluate these claims, it will be necessary to turn to one of the only populations who do not have appropriate labor laws which prevent creation of such a state simply from taking on excessive work: the American elderly. As the brain ages the way in which information is processed changes so that a lower level of information can be processed before legitimate psychological harm can be done.
 Excessive work levels in this population leads to elevated cortisol and hippocampal atrophy (Lupien). This produces workplace dangers and harms which stem from memory deficits and cognitive dysfunction. In people who are younger, it is one way in which a psychotic episode may manifest itself, and indicates past or present trauma.
Predictive Indicators of Exacerbation of the Symptoms of Elevated Cortisol Levels
 The use of childhood trauma to enforce a social class structure is no longer present, though it is still not conceivable for all of those with parental separation, childhood trauma or excessive work schedules to operate from a prevention-based standpoint, and those who exhibit the symptoms will need to make lifestyle and personal choices which are appropriate for the predicament. The alternative includes many negative symptoms and a much higher rate of mortality from heart attack.
 Chronic use of marijuana has been shown to increase cortisol levels dramatically (King), though lower levels of THC administration have been suggested to lower cortisol release outside of statistical significance, as a female pregnancy hormone, prolactin, also blocks some effects of the product. That is a phenomenon which may explain how responsible adult users of the product have twice as many geniuses per capita as non-users, while those who use chronically and from a young age have only half as many (Fried). Moderate use of alcohol can increase cortisol substantially, or about double that of chronic cannabis use (Badrick). Like responsible adult use of cannabis, there is no indication of increased cortisol from light use of alcohol or beverages containing trace amounts of alcohol such as Kombucha. This runs about the same cortical increase as failing to quit smoking for heavy smokers (Steptoe).
Applications to Lifestyles and Conclusion
 Cortisol may be responsible for a great deal more than is currently recognized, and with it positive physical health consequences including heart disease are also enhanced. Legal lifestyle choices such as diet, work schedule, and substance use do play a role for some parts of society, and even though many decisions have been prohibited which can induce a dangerous release of cortisol, it is worth checking out what effects can be felt. Some decisions which are still recommended for the general population are dangerous for specific groups of people, and that is also something which needs attention. It can even occur that events outside of an individual’s control, such as parental separation, physical or sexual abuse, and even for a period head trauma can change the decision making process as it is elucidated throughout discussion.
References:
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Dahlgren, Anna, Göran Kecklund, and Torbjörn Åkerstedt. “Different levels of work-related stress and the effects on sleep, fatigue and cortisol.” Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health (2005): 277-285.
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Fried, Peter, et al. “Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 166.7 (2002): 887-891.
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Mondelli, Valeria, et al. “Higher cortisol levels are associated with smaller left hippocampal volume in first-episode psychosis.” Schizophrenia research119.1 (2010): 75-78.
Morgan, Craig, et al. “Parental separation, loss and psychosis in different ethnic groups: a case-control study.” Psychological medicine 37.04 (2007): 495-503.
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Steptoe, Andrew, et al. “Job strain and anger expression predict early morning elevations in salivary cortisol.” Psychosomatic Medicine 62.2 (2000): 286-292.
Steptoe, Andrew, and Michael Ussher. “Smoking, cortisol and nicotine.” International Journal of Psychophysiology 59.3 (2006): 228-235.
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