Resilience and chronic stress

Resilience and chronic stress

Melissa Manners researches chronic stress and ways to decrease associated inflammation and disease.

Melissa Manners, Ph.D.


Areas of expertise:

Molecular and behavioral mechanisms and chronic stress, disease and treatment 

More information

Until recently, Melissa Manners, Ph.D., didn’t have a universal reference she could use to describe chronic stress. Now, in the wake of a global pandemic, she says most people have experienced the many ways sustained stress can affect physical and emotional well-being. 

“Stress is an inevitable and normal part of daily life,” Manners explains, “and activation of the stress response is vital for survival. However, chronic stress can have a negative impact on mental health and well-being, and lead to mental illness in susceptible individuals. We do not fully understand why some individuals are susceptible to chronic stress, but one way of investigating this issue is to determine mechanisms underlying resilience."

With support from the National Institute of Mental Health, Manners’ lab is investigating the impact exercise may have on increasing resilience and decreasing inflammation in the brain when enduring chronic stress. 

Manners notes that inflammatory factors are elevated in the brains of individuals suffering from major depressive disorder, anxiety and neurodegenerative disorders. She and her students are working to identify ways, including exercise, to decrease inflammation in the chronically stressed brain, in order to improve resilience and potentially combat the progression of these diseases.  

"Exercise is known to promote mental health,” Manners says. “We know that exercise is healthy. Your body benefits from exercise and your brain benefits from exercise. What we are interested in knowing is whether exercise promotes an anti-inflammatory environment in the brain.” 

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