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When Stress Makes You Sick

Isabelle Mansuy, professor of neuroepigenetics: "Chronic stress is a risk factor for the development of common neuropsychiatric or cardiovascular diseases." (Image: Hochschulmedizin Zürich)

Chronic stress can decrease the quality of our lives, and have long-term negative effects on our health that may be irreversible. The new «Hochschulmedizin Zürich (HMZ)» flagship project STRESS aims to explore the causes of stress and highlight possible treatments.

It’s no secret that stress can make you sick. And yet, people are less aware that ongoing negative stress not only impairs your mental health, but can also affect your body. “Chronic stress, especially when experienced during childhood, is a risk factor for the development of common neuropsychiatric disorders later in life,” says Isabelle Mansuy. The professor of neuroepigenetics at UZH and ETH Zurich heads the new HMZ flagship project together with UZH professor of psychology Birgit Kleim.

The project, with a name that is simple and to the point, STRESS, will start on 1 January 2022 and is funded with CHF 1 million, with UZH and ETH sharing the costs. «Hochschulmedizin Zürich» presented the new project yesterday at its annual event. The event also saw the first presentation of the HMZ Award, which recognizes excellent collaboration between PhD candidates at UZH and ETH and was made possible thanks to a private donation.

The new flagship project aims to understand, diagnose and treat the effects of stress on people’s mental and physical health. Researchers from UZH, ETH, the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich are involved in the research collaboration. They are exploring a public health problem that has serious consequences for our society. Over the past decades, the effects of stress on health have become of major concern and perhaps reached a peak during the Covid pandemic.

UZH News