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SBHC Grapevine—July 8-14, 2013

Flowchart: Alternate Process: Cont. from Page 1

Sharp, who occasionally used medication, also relied on supportive relationships with nonjudgmental friends who had similar experiences with mental illness. Eventually, with the aid of cognitive behavioral and emotional release therapy over several years, Sharp’s life changed dramatically.
She manages her recovery with a program called Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which focuses on a daily maintenance plan of simple tasks that improve mood, how to identify emotional triggers and how to handle an emotional crisis.  

“Some of us are born with greater resilience than others, but it can also be learned, nurtured and developed,” she said. 
Flowchart: Alternate Process: “A person can rebuild [a] difficult moment as a strength and recognize they’re more than their losses or experiences.”

Although research has identified genes that indicate a predisposition to resiliency or vulnerability to trauma,  scientists have to increasingly account for the possibility that environmental influences at critical developmental periods, like infancy and early childhood, may also play a significant role.

Scientists aren’t sure yet whether the effect is universal, if it’s permanent, or if an antidepressant or a technique such as meditation could reverse it. 

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, a neurobiologist at University of California, Irvine, has studied how resiliency or vulnerability is shaped in early life. She has found that consistent nurturing parental care in rodents silencFlowchart: Alternate Process: activates a key part of the body’s stress response system. 

Baram suspects that when the gene is turned on in humans, it leads to vulnerability that can be triggered by a traumatic event or chronic stress. This dynamic, she said, might explain why the onset of depression or suicidal thoughts often strikes in adolescence.

Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health are developing brain-imaging technologies to visualize the chemical markers that attach to genes, but there is not yet a practical biomarker or tool that could be used in a clinical setting.

Doctors may eventually be able to identify the “biological signature” of a psychological disease or condition and offer tailored treatments. In the meantime, Tuma said, just knowing how the body responds to trauma and stress is a powerful weapon in the fight to thrive again.
 Source: NBC News
Tragedy & Resiliency

Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds.