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The Peter Attia Drive

Apr 24, 2023

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In this episode, Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., discusses the widespread impact of stress on our physical and emotional health as well as the mechanisms by which it can precipitate chronic illness, dementia, depression, and more. He also provides insight into the factors that contribute to the stress response (and our ability to handle it) such as social rank, personality, environment, and genetics. Lastly, we discuss how our behavior is altered in the face of stress and how that not only has a pervasive effect on a personal level, but also on society as a whole in how we interact with each other.

We discuss:

  • Background, interest in stress, and Robert’s time in Kenya studying baboons [2:45];
  • Physiology of a stress response, and why it’s ingrained in our DNA [9:45];
  • Individual variation in the response to stress, and how everyone has a different optimal level [19:45];
  • How social rank and personality differences affect our stress response [26:30];
  • What’s happening in the brain when faced with stressful situations? [35:00];
  • What makes the human brain different than all other species? [44:15];
  • Imprinting stress to your kids epigenetically [48:00];
  • The role of stress on memory and the consequences of hypercortisolemia [53:00];
  • The impact of subjective socioeconomic status and social media on stress levels and health [57:45];
  • Tips for managing stress in the modern world [1:13:15];
  • What Robert learned about himself studying the social behavior of baboons [1:25:30];
  • The multilayered factors behind every human behavior, the context of “good and bad”, and exploring the human capacity of the wild extremes of violence and altruism from moment to moment [1:30:15];
  • PMS: How two women with identical hormone levels can have completely different emotional experiences [1:34:45];
  • How much of a role do genes play in depression and other emotional states? [1:38:00];
  • Why is cortisol elevated under sleep deprivation? [1:46:00];
  • The impact of stress on cancer [1:50:30];
  • The impact of stress on atherosclerosis, dementia, addiction, and depression [1:57:00];
  • Impulsiveness, impaired judgment, and lack of empathy in times of stress [2:01:45];
  • What advice would Robert give his 25-year-old self? [2:08:45]; and
  • More.

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