Archive: Stress research

It is assumed that there is a close relationship between psychosomatic disorders and stress.


        An instrument was developed for the assessment of stressors across different areas in life (DLB scale).


        In cooperation with the Centre for Stress Research at the university of Trier, "neuropatterns" in psychosomatic patients were studied. There are 13 endophenotypes associated with different types of reaction to stress, which can be used to guide personalized treatment.


        Disturbed sleep can cause stress by itself or can be the consequence of stress. The rate of sleep problems in psychosomatic patients has been assessed by self rating and polysomnographic sleep recording. It could be shown that disturbed sleep is highly prevalent in this population, and is linked to impaired daily activities and inability to work.


        Sleep problems have also been studied in cardiology patients. Here apnea syndromes and respiratory insufficiency in the context of postoperative heart failure, anemia, or hypoventilation due to chest pain, are of special importance.


        A special stressor can be somatic illnesses in general. They can cause anxiety and lead to hypochondriac reactions. In contrast to hypochondriasis as such, where there is no somatic thread, these patients are confronted with the possibility of sudden death or progression of the illness. The concept of "pathological realangst" has been developed to describe the specialty of this clinical problem. Such disorders require special treatments of a psychosomatic nature as such. One result of respective studies has been that it is not so much the medical severity of the illness but rather the symptoms which are subjectively recognized, which cause anxiety.


        Another source of stress is generalized worrying. While hypochondriasis is bound to somatic problems, generalized worrying pertains to all areas of life. Generalized anxiety disorders are characterized by constant worrying about everyday minor matters. They are by their very nature chronic diseases and are also one of the main groups in psychosomatic rehabilitation. They are often difficult to recognize because these patients do not come to treatment because of “anxiety” but because of "burn out", "adjustment problems" or "worries" about some life problem. In EEG studies, auditory evoked potentials were used to investigate the neurophysiological responsiveness of the exteroceptive sensory system. There were indications for an increased serotonergic activity. In a controlled, multicenter study, cognitive behavior therapy proved to be an effective treatment. In a follow-up after one year it was found that treatment had resulted in a significant reduction of health care use and inability to work.


        Specific stressors have been investigated like work stress (see work anxiety) or injustice (see embitterment).


        In respect to stress not only stressors but also preventive factors must be taken into account. A scale for the assessment of recreational activities was developed (RADL scale) , which covers "cultural activities" (e.g. going to the cinema), "physical activities" (e.g. jogging), "craft activities" (e.g. handicrafts), "social activities" (e.g. visiting friends) and "domestic activities" (e.g. cooking). Such day-to-day activities, including recreational activities, play a central role in functional health. As there is no knowledge on how much of what is normal, several studies have been done to get reference data. Clear differences between men and women were found.


        Another protective factor against stress could be wisdom. To measure wisdom, the “wisdom scale” was developed. It could be shown that patients with higher degrees of wisdom show less burdens across different areas of life.


Research database

For more details please use the Charité undefinedresearch database.