Drug Overdoses (02:56)
The U.S. ranks among the lowest in life expectancy among developed nations. At the Coroner's Office in the Westmoreland County Forensic Center, Dr. Cyril Wecht conducts an autopsy on a woman who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He has performed over 300 autopsies for drug-related deaths. (Credits)
Deaths of Despair (05:06)
Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains his interest in the recent decrease in life expectancy for the white working class. Suicide, drug overdose, and cirrhosis are symptoms of an underlying problem. Dr. Cyril Wecht feels that increased stress in society contributes to self-medicating behaviors.
Toxic Stress (03:38)
For most animals stress response and chemicals last for three minutes of a fight or flight response. Lack of control, predictability, and social support cause chronic stress, which raises blood pressure, scarring, and inflammation. Dr. Robert Sapolsky wrote "Why Zebra's Don't Get Ulcers."
Fast-Changing World (03:26)
Drugs can save lives, but almost 50 Americans die every day from prescription pain killers. Angela Glass takes a cocktail of medications to cope with the death of her second child. Premature deaths are the manifestation of stress and the desire for self-medication.
"Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century" (03:09)
More people have died from "deaths of despair" than people who have died from AIDs in the United States. Anne Case describes how suicide, cirrhosis, and drug overdose rates increased. Economic decline impacts health; see footage of what occurred in the rust belt during the 1980s.
Is the Economy Improving? (02:25)
Plants are closing and jobs are being outsourced in modern society. Bobbi Boltz describes how the plant she and many of her family members worked at closed. Workers feel helpless, angry, and worry that the middle class is dead.
Returning to Michigan (04:02)
Dr. Gupta returns home to witness how Livinia has changed since his childhood. His mother describes how he wanted to change his name to Steve as a child after the war in Iran. People in the town are under stress because the job market is insecure.
Impact of Job on Health (03:19)
The Whitehall Study examines how lower status individuals had a lower life expectancy. African Americans feel a chronic state of stress; the white working class has not experienced the same oppression. Charles Moore treats underprivileged patients in Atlanta who have a life expectancy twelve years lower than those who live further north.
No Jobs (03:46)
Tom Courson hunts to provide meat for his family. Boltz does not think executives feel compassion for the working class and are motivated by greed. Patty Thompson explains how her brother killed himself after he lost his job.
More people use handguns to commit suicide than to murder others. Sanjay Gupta hypothesizes that dashed expectations cause despair. At Yale University, Dr. Rajita Sinha examines how high cumulative stress reduces brain tissue. Dr. Amy Arnsten describes how the pre-frontal cortex is highly susceptible to stress.
Fixing the Brain (03:21)
Data shows that behavioral skills training such as meditation can help the brain regrow. Glass enrolls in Kemah Palms Recovery to learn to cope without self-medicating.
Fundamentally Social Animals (03:15)
Dr. John Capitanio experiments with rhesus monkeys to understand how social factors can influence physiology. Socio-economic factors provide certainty of status. People live in fear of downward mobility and inequality.
Socio-Economic Status (03:35)
People feel subordinated by constant messages of inequity. In "rage rooms," individuals can destroy common items to feel better. The greater the level of inequality, the less trust and cohesion exists within that society.
Reduced Rate of Heart Attacks (04:37)
People who live in tight social structures experience better health. The Roseto study followed Italian American immigrants over a fifty-year period. Robert Sapolsky describes why he is optimistic that people can grow less aggressive.
Glass' Journey (04:01)
Now completely sober, Glass believes that the medication altered her mind. Kemah Palms Recovery teaches individuals to cope. Sapolsky explains how stress hormones obstruct empathetic behavior.
Social Darwinism (03:00)
Experts discuss how the poor are demonized. Dan Picard believes that ambulances should no longer respond to drug overdoses if the victim had already been provided services twice. A support group meets to discuss the three-strike law.
Saving the Human Race (05:02)
An alpha monkey shares food with lower status females in her pack. Empathy should be ingrained in our children. Teenagers share how scared they are of others and how social media affects them.
Conclusion: One Nation Under Stress (04:11)
The Centers for Disease Control announces that life expectancy has declined for three years in a row. Human beings cause the "deaths of despair." Individuals cannot ignore the impact of stress on society; governmental policies do not reflect scientific knowledge.
Credits: One Nation Under Stress (01:20)
Credits: One Nation Under Stress
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