Murthy Discusses Chronic Stress, Solutions

Dr. Vivek Murthy (r) chats with NIH director Dr.
Francis Collins at Straus Lecture.
Dr. Vivek Murthy (r) chats with NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at Straus Lecture.

Imagine that you are picking up a set of weights at the gym, an overloaded bag at the grocery store or a small child. As you do this, you’re building muscle mass, “but if you hold that weight for hours and hours, it may do damage to you—and that’s essentially what happens with chronic stress,” according to former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy.

There is “an epidemic of stress in America,” he says, but there are also tools and skills that we can use to counter it and “enhance [our] ability to live a healthier, stronger, more fulfilling life.”

Murthy and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins spoke at this year’s Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Therapies about “A Nation Under Pressure: The Public Health Consequences of Stress in America.” They addressed a packed Masur Auditorium and thousands more watching on videocast and Facebook Live. NCCIH’s annual Straus Lecture honors the center’s founding director.

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UNHERALDED HEROES
Woodruff Shares Personal Story as Caregiver to Son

Judy Woodruff at NIH
Judy Woodruff at NIH

They may not have the medical expertise, but nobody else could be more devoted to the patient. They’re the informal caregivers—the relatives and friends of chronically ill patients—who selflessly spend many grueling hours daily caring for their loved ones.

The caregiver role came about unexpectedly for Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, who delivered the keynote recently at a 2-day NINR Science of Caregiving Summit in Natcher Bldg. Her oldest child Jeffrey, now 35, was born with mild cases of spina bifida and hydrocephalus, conditions that were kept largely under control until one fateful day in his teens.

As a child, Jeffrey needed some extra help. His conditions left him with learning issues and frequent incontinence; he also needed physical therapy. But he was a smart, adventurous child who loved to swim and ski and did well in school, recounted Woodruff.

“Despite our frantic worries, Jeffrey thrived,” she said. “He grew to be a little boy we couldn’t even keep up with.”

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