Category Archives: bully

How repeated aggression triggers social aversion in mice

ScienceDaily: Stress News

How repeated aggression triggers social aversion in mice
One of the mechanisms involved in the onset of stress-induced depression has been highlighted in mice. Scientists have determined the role of the corticosterone (stress hormone) receptor, in the long-term behavioral change triggered by chronic stress. In mice subject to repeated aggressions, this receptor participates in the development of social aversion by controlling the release of dopamine, a key chemical messenger. If this receptor is blocked, the animals become “resilient”: although anxious, they overcome the trauma and no longer avoid contact with their fellow creatures.

The relationship between trauma ptsd and life illness. Missing link between mental health disorders and chronic diseases in Iraq war refugees

ScienceDaily: Stress News

Missing link between mental health disorders and chronic diseases in Iraq war refugees
Researchers may have discovered why people exposed to war are at increased risk to develop chronic problems like heart disease years later. And the culprit that links the two is surprising.


Missing Link Between Mental Health Disorders and Chronic Diseases in Iraq War Refugees

ScienceDaily (Oct. 15, 2012) — Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers may have discovered why people exposed to war are at increased risk to develop chronic problems like heart disease years later. And the culprit that links the two is surprising.

Beginning in the mid-2000s, WSU researchers interviewed a random sample of 145 American immigrants who left Iraq before the 1991 Gulf War, and 205 who fled Iraq after the Gulf War began. All were residing in metropolitan Detroit at the time of the study. Study subjects were asked about socio-demographics, pre-migration trauma, how they rated their current health, physician-diagnosed and physician-treated obstructive sleep apnea, somatic disorders and psychosomatic disorders. Those who left Iraq after the war began and suffered from mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and self-rated their physical health as worse than their actual health, were 43 times more likely than pre-Gulf War immigrants to report obstructive sleep apnea (30.2 percent versus 0.7 percent) and later develop major chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease.
“I was surprised, but we had a specific theory we wanted to test. Changes in the stress system would contribute to sleep apnea. What happens? Maybe it’s the stress that leads to this fractured sleep,” said Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., School of Medicine professor of occupational and environmental health, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State, and the study’s principal investigator and first author. “No one had explored this possible link before, although basic research suggests it as plausible.”
The results are featured in the October 2012 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.
According to the article, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Health in Immigrants,” obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles supporting the soft palate at the back of the throat relax, but less is known about the reasons behind this neuromuscular malfunctioning.
“It’s a known fact that the more exposure to violence you have, the more likely you are to report PTSD and depression, and the worse your self-rated health is, the more likely your actual health will suffer in five to 10 years,” Arnetz said.
Hikmet Jamil, M.D., Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental health in WSU’s School of Medicine, and Thomas Templin, Ph.D., research professor in WSU’s College of Nursing, also contributed to the article.
The obstructive sleep apnea and chronic disase link has been observed among many trauma-exposed populations, including refugees, Arnetz said.
“Iraqis were exposed to harsh conditions during the entirety of Saddam Hussein’s more than 20 years of reign. However, trauma and environmental exposures increased measurably and dramatically after the initiation of the 1991 Gulf War,” the article states.
The study can now be used as a model for other populations, including U.S. soldiers returning home from battle.

The multidisciplinary study brought together mental health research, sleep research and chronic disease research, Arnetz said.
He and Jamil were partially supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (award number R01MH085793).
To further test their ideas, the researchers plan to apply for funding from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate with Safwan Badr, M.D., professor and chief of the School of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, and Thomas Roth, Ph.D., director of the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders and Research Center.

Let’s Talk with Kalola: Worried Daughter

Workplace Bullying Institute
Let’s Talk with Kalola: Worried Daughter

Another , Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!

Dear Kalola,

I just wanted to share the story of almost losing my mom only a few
short weeks ago due to workplace bullying. For some 27 years, one of
her female coworker had been talking inappropriately about her to
another coworker, loud enough for her to hear it. They would even
pretend she didn’t exist at times. Over the years, the two women made
a sport of picking on a few people in the office. About 3 months ago
it got so bad that my mom went to her supervisor to ask for help. The
supervisor told her that eventually they would move on to someone else
and that her turn would be over for awhile.

She saw a psychologist about a month ago and was told that she was
being bullied and that she needed to stand up for herself. My mom has
always been a very non-confrontational person, so for her to confront
the two bullies was very scary to her. She recorded the meeting with
the two bullies and her supervisor. The supervisor basically pretended
nothing was going on and when asked what the policy was on workplace
bullying, she had no idea. The supervisor set up a follow up meeting
for a week later. Nothing else was done.

Over the next few days the bullies began pretending that my mom didn’t
exist. That is also a form of bullying and was just as bad as being
talked about all the time. It was so bad that the day before the
meeting she started the car in the garage with the doors closed
because she couldn’t handle going back to work. Luckily she had second
thoughts and after 4 hours got out of the garage and called my dad for
help. We are very lucky that our garage is not insulated very well or
she wouldn’t be here today.

She is out of FMLA but is dreading the thought of going back to that
work environment. The management has done nothing in terms of making
arrangements for her return that would prevent future bullying. Our
family will be pursing legal actions when my mom is strong enough to
handle the legal inquiries. She is still very fragile and we are
trying our best to help make the situation better. It could have been
very tragic, but it was 100% preventable if the workplace would have
enforced a non-bullying policy. I hope future and other current
victims can be “saved” though legislation to make workplaces safe for

Thank you,


Dear Amanda,

Your Mom’s condition sounds very fragile. 

The employer has allowed your Mother to be mistreated for 27 years, and she is at the point that she can no longer deal with the workplace.  What she needs right now is the love and support of her family, care from her personal physician, and a mental health professional who has your Mother’s best interests in mind.  Do you really want your Mother to return to the workplace that you have described?

The anti-bullying Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) offers advice on selecting a therapist, see web page at:

Please help your Mom in finding a new mental health professional.  Your Mom is not the problem, and it is not her fault that she is being bullied.  Due to the lack of support that your Mom is receiving from her direct supervisor tells me that confronting the bullies will not solve the problems as this has gone on for far too long, and could even make matters worse.   The supervisor should have been the person who told the offending workers that their behaviors were inappropriate and should immediately stop.  The work supervisor has allowed the bad behaviors, and that is unacceptable.  The supervisor is complicit as she did nothing to help your Mother.

You mention in your letter that your family plans to pursue legal actions.  WBI  offers tips and advice on how to find an attorney, see web page at:

Talk to an employment and labor attorney about what has happened to your Mother on the job.    An attorney can best tell you whether there is cause for a claim for what is called “intentional infliction of emotional abuse” (IIED) where the conduct must have been extreme and outrageous, intentional and reckless, and must be the cause of extreme emotional distress.  The attorney can determine whether your Mother was illegally discriminated against (see website for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions at: ).


If false statements were made in writing  about your Mother, please show the documentation to the attorney.  The attorney will look at the documentation to learn if there were injuries to your Mother’s reputation that have exposed her to public hatred, contempt, ridicule or degradation, that is, was her reputation unfairly damaged.  An attorney can tell you whether there is liability based on negligence or arising from failure to take due care.   Please discuss your concerns with an attorney.

Please consider what would be in the best interests of your loved one under the circumstances.  Is it healthy for your Mom to stay on at this job?  Has her health and well being been damaged because of what she has experienced on the job?

Please be aware that a prolonged legal matter can also cause stress and anxiety.  Is your Mother up to this? 

No job is worth a person’s life.  I’m very sorry that your Mother has suffered so from this terrible workplace experience.  I hope that things get better for her.



Stress and your health statistics graphic

Workplace Bullying Institute
Stress and your health statistics graphic
A great graphic gift from Sarah Wenger

Master Your Stress
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