The League

Dr. Matthew Prowler
Resident Psychiatrist

Dr. Matthew Prowler

Resident Psychiatrist at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Resilience Is Relative


There is intriguing research in the field of psychiatry that focuses on why some individuals handle adversity better than others. As we know from life experience, a stressful event, whether it is a loss in sports or the death of a loved one, seems to affect people differently -- one person may bounce back from a setback quickly and appear relatively unaffected, while another may struggle persistently or even become severely depressed.

In psychiatric research, this concept is termed resilience. The theory behind this work is that we may ultimately learn more about the causes of depression and anxiety if we study those individuals who do not exhibit symptoms. Researchers from Mount Sinai and Yale have collaborated in order to identify whether there are commonalities among those who have faced adversity and been particularly resilient -- specifically, they studied Vietnam veterans who did not develop depression or post traumatic stress disorder after exposure to combat. They identified certain psychological characteristics that particularly resilient veterans shared, such as humor and altruism, and hypothesized that these may be protective traits. Other studies of veterans have presented promising neurochemical and hormonal trends that may contribute to increased resilience to stress.

So before we label all those who struggle with adversity as lazy or weak, it is important to consider that individual responses to stress may be, at least in part, innate. Hopefully, further research will help clarify the differences between those who are born resilient and those who wish to have resilience thrust upon them.

By Dr. Matthew Prowler  |  January 15, 2009; 8:20 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Dr. Matthew Prowler , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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