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NLM Director’s Comments Transcript
Resilience’s Multiple Origins: 10/29/2012

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what's new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

Human resilience, or the capacity to cope with stress and trauma, stems from interactive factors that may include social and behavioral characteristics, health status, as well as genes, suggests a perspective recently published in Science.

The authors note the American Psychological Association defines resilience as (and we quote): ‘the process of adopting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of threat’ (end of quote). The authors add current research on the underpinnings of resilience has important implications for the future prevention and treatment of depression.

Steven Southwick M.D. and Dennis Charney M.D., who are psychiatrist-researchers at Yale University and Mount Sinai School of Medicines respectively, note the ability to bounce back from hardship and trauma varies significantly from person to person. While human resilience is impacted by genetics and environmental stress, Southwick and Charney explain nature and nurture are more often interactive than mutually exclusive.

Southwick and Charney note at least five contributors to resilience were identified by recent international research. The contributors to resilience include: one’s cognitive/behavioral functional skills, an ability to regulate emotions, a person’s social skills and experience, physical health, and neurobiological factors that contain genetic underpinnings.

More specifically, Southwick and Charney explain some of the cognitive and behavioral skills associated with resilience include: positive emotional responses to stress, realistic optimism, flexible thinking, and good self-efficacy.

The authors note a capacity to manage emotions (that contributes to resilience) includes: accepting delayed gratification, and a desire to recover rapidly from stress.

Southwick and Charney add a person’s strong social skills, a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, and having resilient role models within one’s life each contribute to boosting resilience.

The authors find recent research suggests good sleep habits, physical fitness, and eating wisely also contribute to resilience.

Finally, the authors explain there are an array of genes associated with human stress response. The brain’s prefrontal, executive function capability also has been demonstrated to be associated with resilience.

Since current research suggests resilience has multiple genetic, developmental, neurobiological, and psychosocial contributors, the authors note and we quote: ‘what we know about reliance has implications for the prevention and treatment of depression’ (end of quote).

While the authors acknowledge the study of resilience is a young area of scientific investigation, they note recent research may provide a pathway to progress in the treatment and prevention of depression. The authors emphasize future advances in research also may stem from a conceptually multidimensional approach to assessing depression’s origins. provides a thoughtful resilience guide for parents and teachers, as well as a succinct primer that helps you plan a strategy to boost your resilience to stress and trauma. Both are provided by the American Psychological Association and can be found by typing ‘resilience’ in the search box on’s home page.’s depression health topic page additionally supplies links to current evidence about depression’s treatment, diagnosis/symptoms, management, and coping. A resource that helps you cope with unexpected traumatic or stressful events (provided by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) is provided within the ‘coping’ section.’s depression health topic page also contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. From the depression health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find’s depression health topic page, type ‘depression’ in the search box on’s home page, then, click on ‘Depression (National Library of Medicine).’ Links to health topic pages devoted to mental health, mental health and behavior, and suicide are accessible within ‘related topics’ on the right side of’s depression health topic page.

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A disclaimer – the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider. I want to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and a healthy New Year. The National Library of Medicine and the 'Director's Comments' podcast staff, including Dr. Lindberg, appreciate your interest and company – and we hope to find new ways to serve you in 2012.

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