Stress and Your Body

Discover how stress is negatively affecting your health and learn new strategies to minimize its impact in this course taught by a Macarthur "Genius."
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 40.53ms
  • bvseo-msg: HTTP status code of 404 was returned;
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 5.18ms
  • bvseo-msg: HTTP status code of 404 was returned; HTTP status code of 404 was returned;


From Dr. Robert Sapolsky, one of the world's foremost researchers on stress and neurobiology, comes this fascinating 24-lecture course that guides you through the science of the stress that is a central part of daily life. You'll explore the nuts and bolts of the stress-response system, its various effects on the body, its ramifications on psychological health, and more. Filled with intriguing case studies, helpful analogies, and heartfelt stories, Stress and Your Body will give you a thorough knowledge of how and why stress affects you the way it does.


Robert Sapolsky
Robert Sapolsky

We humans activate the stress-response for reasons of psychological factors, and that's simply not what the system evolved for. If you do that chronically, you're going to get sick.


Stanford University
Dr. Robert Sapolsky is John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Stanford's School of Medicine. Professor Sapolsky earned his A.B. summa cum laude in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology from The Rockefeller University in New York. He is also a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research operated by the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Dr. Sapolsky is a recipient of a MacArthur genius fellowship. His teaching awards include Stanford University's Bing Award for Teaching Excellence and an award for outstanding teaching from the Associated Students of Stanford University. Professor Sapolsky is the author of several books, including Stress, the Aging Brain and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death (MIT Press, 1992); The Trouble with Testosterone (Macmillan Library Reference, 1997); and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress-Related Diseases and Coping (W.H. Freeman, 1995), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He also regularly contributes to magazines and journals such as Discover, Science, Scientific American, Harper's, and The New Yorker.

By This Professor

Stress and Your Body
Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality, 2nd Edition
Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science
Stress and Your Body


Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers? Why Do We?

01: Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers? Why Do We?

In Professor Sapolsky's introductory lecture, get a behind-the-scenes look at the science of stress and preview the groundwork for the course ahead. What exactly happens to our bodies when we come under stress? And how is our response to stress different from that of a zebra being hunted al ong a savannah?

31 min
The Nuts and Bolts of the Stress-Response

02: The Nuts and Bolts of the Stress-Response

Every time you have a thought or emotion, things change in your body. Here, explore the two factors responsible for these changes: the nervous system and hormones. Learn how these systems work, how they're regulated, and-most important-what happens to them during moments of stress.

31 min
Stress and Your Heart

03: Stress and Your Heart

Armed with the necessary background information, explore how specific organ systems suffer when faced with chronic stress. In the first of a series of lectures on this subject, learn how long-term stress can damage heart muscles, inflame and clog blood vessels, and even lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

31 min
Stress, Metabolism, and Liquidating Your Assets

04: Stress, Metabolism, and Liquidating Your Assets

The next organ system you focus on: the metabolic system. Discover how cycles of chronic stress lead to a persistent activating and storing of energy, which in turn can lead to an inefficient use of energy and play a critical role in the prevalence of adult-onset diabetes.

31 min
Stress, Overeating, and Your Digestive Tract

05: Stress, Overeating, and Your Digestive Tract

Focus now on the role stress plays in our gastrointestinal tracts. Why do most of us eat more during stressful periods? How does stress affect bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colons? And how does stress combine with a bacterial infection to produce a common stress-related disease: ulcers?

31 min
Stress and Growth-Echoes from the Womb

06: Stress and Growth-Echoes from the Womb

The first of two lectures on stress and child development takes you inside prenatal and postnatal life. Using two extraordinary examples, Professor Sapolsky reveals the ways a fetus can respond to the environmental stressors of its mother, and how different parenting styles can affect the stress levels of young children.

31 min
Stress, Growth, and Child Development

07: Stress, Growth, and Child Development

Investigate how chronic stress can disrupt the growth of young children by focusing on stress dwarfism and the connection between stress and low growth hormone levels. Also, learn how mid-20th-century experiments with monkeys proved how important love-and not just nutrients-is in raising less-stressful children.

31 min
Stress and Female Reproduction

08: Stress and Female Reproduction

Get an insightful overview of the multifaceted effects of stress on the female reproductive system. Some of the topics you explore are the intricate relationships between stress and fertilization, ovulation, spontaneous miscarriages, high-tech in vitro fertilization, and the strength of the libido.

30 min
Stress and Male Reproduction

09: Stress and Male Reproduction

Despite being simpler than its female counterpart, the male reproductive system is just as vulnerable to chronic stress. Here, discover how stress leads not to a major decrease in testosterone so much as an increase in erectile dysfunction (with a focus on two of the most common symptoms: impotency and premature ejaculation).

32 min
Stress and Your Immune System

10: Stress and Your Immune System

Turn now to the relationship between stress and your immune system. After mastering the basics of how this system works, delve into how frequent stressors can result in flare-ups of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, can increase your vulnerability to infections like the common cold and herpes viruses, and more.

31 min
Stress and Cancer

11: Stress and Cancer

Can an increase in stress actually cause cancer? Can it cause a relapse among patients in remission, or speed up the rate of a cancer's progression? Professor Sapolsky offers his insights on these and other controversial questions and myths about the possible links between stress and cancer....

31 min
Stress and Pain

12: Stress and Pain

Stress and pain have an intriguing relationship: Stress can increase your sensitivity and resistance to pain, while pain constitutes its own particular stressor. Explore this fascinating bidirectional relationship, and expand your knowledge of how both balanced and stressed minds and bodies react to all varieties of pain.

29 min
Stress, Learning, and Memory

13: Stress, Learning, and Memory

Memory-whether implicit or explicit-is an essential part of everyday life. So it's all the more important to understand how it's affected by stress. This lecture explains the science behind how short-term stress enhances memory and learning, while chronic stress may actually work to kill neurons in the hippocampus.

29 min
Stress, Judgment, and Impulse Control

14: Stress, Judgment, and Impulse Control

In addition to affecting the hippocampus, stress can prove harmful to the frontal cortex as well-the seat of behavioral regulation. As in previous lectures, discover what happens to this essential part of the brain when it comes under attack from chronic stress.

31 min
Stress, Sleep, and Lack of Sleep

15: Stress, Sleep, and Lack of Sleep

Most of us don't get as much sleep as we should. Yet the amount of sleep we get is highly intertwined with how our bodies deal with stress. Investigate why high levels of stress disrupt not only how long we sleep-but the quality of sleep's vital restorative powers as well.

31 min
Stress and Aging

16: Stress and Aging

As you age, your ability to deal with stress decreases. What's more: Lots of stress throughout your lifetime can accelerate aspects of aging. Here, examine a series of intriguing experiments and studies that explain the science behind these two views about the intersection between stress and aging.

31 min
Understanding Psychological Stress

17: Understanding Psychological Stress

Why are some stressors more unbearable than others? This lecture introduces you to three powerful psychological factors that work to modulate the stress response: having an outlet, taking advantage of social support, and having predictive information about when and how long a stressor will occur.

30 min
Psychological Modulators of Stress

18: Psychological Modulators of Stress

Conclude your look at ways to modulate the stress response by looking at two subtler variables: your control over the stressor, and your interpretation of whether the stress is getting better or worse. You also see why, despite being enormously powerful, these variables can work only within certain parameters.

30 min
Stress and the Biology of Depression

19: Stress and the Biology of Depression

Turn to the realm of mental health with this close look at the ties between stress and major depression-one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Start with an overview of the disorder's symptoms before delving into the particulars of its neurochemistry and neuroanatomy.

31 min
Stress and the Psychology of Depression

20: Stress and the Psychology of Depression

To truly understand clinical depression, you need to grasp its psychological aspects as well. In the second lecture on stress and this prevalent disease, explore the pivotal role stress hormones play in depression. Then, use your newfound knowledge of stress to knit together the psychological and biological models of depression.

30 min
Anxiety, Hostility, Repression, and Reward

21: Anxiety, Hostility, Repression, and Reward

Anxiety disorders, feelings of intense hostility, a decreased capacity for pleasure, and a repressed or addictive persona are just a few of the many distinct effects that chronic stress can have on an individual's personality and behavior. The ways these psychological disorders emerge are the subject of this fascinating lecture.

31 min
Stress, Health, and Low Social Status

22: Stress, Health, and Low Social Status

How strong a role does socioeconomic status play in what stressors you're exposed to, as well as your potential for chronic stress? It's a provocative question whose answer Professor Sapolsky reveals in this penetrating look at the characteristics and effects of psychosocial stress on both primates and humans.

30 min
Stress Management-Clues to Success?

23: Stress Management-Clues to Success?

Before learning tips to manage chronic stress, it's essential to understand why certain individuals cope better with stress-both physically and mentally-than others. Discover that the key lies in grasping predictors of successful aging, including a position of respect, a resilient personality, a healthy lifestyle, and a realistic approach to life's challenges.

30 min
Stress Management-Approaches and Cautions

24: Stress Management-Approaches and Cautions

Exercise. Meditation. Social support. Religious beliefs. In this concluding lecture, learn how these and other outlets can potentially help you manage life's everyday stressors-both biologically and psychologically. Regardless of how many stressors you deal with daily, all of us, according to Professor Sapolsky, have the potential to keep them in perspective.

32 min