Monkeys and Prarie Dogs


ScienceDaily is one of my favorite medical news sources on the internet. Yes, believe it or not, I do read important news items. Yesterday they reported on a study conducted by the HealthEmotions Institute and The University of Wisconsin that I found important.

If you are like me, I’m deeply sorry in many ways. Among the many horrible things it means to be like me, it likely also means you suffer from the “Prairie Dog Condition” which is linked to the “Chihuahua Syndrome.” The Prairie Dog Condition is that feeling that you are constantly alert. Like waiting for something to happen but not knowing what. Alert, anxious and nervous. BTW, have I ever mentioned “The Mountain Dew Effect?” I’ll save that one for another day.

My understanding of the study is the part of the brain called amygdala that regulates emotion and triggers reactions to anxiety such as the “fight or flight” response. Apparently the poor monkeys who were regularly anxious showed that the metabolic activity in their brain registered higher. In addition, their metabolic activity was higher in both secure and threatening situations.

As the article says, “the brain machinery underlying the stress response seems to be always on in these individuals.”

I could go on and explain more of what the article says, but I’ve provided the link above. I highly recommend reading it. I felt it was necessary to bring up to show further my adamant belief that acute depression and anxiety are physical and biological traits that are no different than any other illness a person is born with or may acquire. Depression is not the blues! To me we’ve reached the point that we no longer need more studies. It’s time to take action and figure out what to do. Let’s focus now on treatment. Stick wires in my brain for all I care.

What do you think?

  16 comments for “Monkeys and Prarie Dogs

  1. July 8, 2008 at 17:48

    hmmm… this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing!! I can totally relate to this…more so than I’d care to admit actually 🙂 I try to fight it off but I often make myself physically ill from the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” feeling…which is essentially what you described in your post. I have a really bad habit of trying to fool others – and myself – that I am stronger than I am or not worried as much as I am or even that I feel more confident that I am… then I see stuff like this and in a weird way it makes me feel less isolated because I know that it is ok to struggle and need help. Seeing that there are names for the things I feel is oddly comforting. Sorry..I am totally rambling.

  2. la
    July 4, 2008 at 13:14

    Interesting.Last year I had to write about a similar study which found increased activity in the amygdala when the participants had been deprived of sleep. Basically, without sleep, the logic centre at the front of the brain redirected activity to the amygdala, which controls more primitive emotions (‘fight or flight’) as you say. So when we don’t get enough sleep we go crazy … who knew?!Incidentally, can I nag you again to fix your RSS feed? Pleeeease?

  3. Michelle
    July 3, 2008 at 13:31

    Yes my wife and I have an attorney friend that has had this treatment within the last few years. I believe it helped her. It was her second go round with E.S.T.

  4. Zathyn Priest
    July 3, 2008 at 08:59

    I totally agree that it’s time to ease up with studies regurgitating the same ‘ol thing we already know and actually move toward decisive action. I am, and always have been, hypervigilant. My flight or fight response is constantly on alert ever since I was a child. Naturally, past childhood experiences play a part in this as well. Though strangely, if I ever am in threatening situation I tend to keep my cool very well. Or could that be ‘deer stuck in headlights’ syndrome? Hmmm….

  5. July 3, 2008 at 15:31

    Thanks…all sorts of irrational thoughts and being sensitive to any perceived sign of rejection is really, really high…Okay, now you did it…I’m tearing up! *hugs*Clueless

  6. Michelle
    July 3, 2008 at 05:44

    They already have, it’s called electro shock treatment for severely depressed folk.Only difference was they weren’t put in your head just frying the outside.shock the monkey as Peter Gabriel put it.

  7. July 3, 2008 at 11:59

    I’m sick of studies. Get on with it and find medications that work! I don’t want ECT, thank you very much. I want a medication that will work better than that and with fewer side effects. We need the funding that cancer has. I think there is more to be done in the way of research on meds.

  8. July 3, 2008 at 08:04

    @ Clueless. I couldn’t imagine being mad at you. Nothing but love. I didn’t have much to add because you said it so well. I just neglected to tell you that. @ Annie. Glad you have a great pdoc to work with. I hear so many who don’t that I’m relieved I [email protected] dani. I never imagined your kid would be so cute. Should I call child welfare since you make him live in a [email protected] michelle. Shock the Monkey is one of my favorite songs of all time. I don’t know if you’re aware, but shock therapy has been brought back. It’s done in a much more precise manor and has had great effects for certain individuals. Rather shocking isn’t it?

  9. July 3, 2008 at 04:43

    Hi Bradley. Stop by my blog and pick up an award I left for you.

  10. July 3, 2008 at 02:27

    Hey, Brad no response to me for awhile. You angry at me or just forgot me or something else that my brain can’t seem to come up with right now? Oh, Mountain Dew effect wouldn’t have anything to do with that for a while my diet consisted of a pot of coffee, two diet cokes and a Mountain Dew, followed by more coffee until I went to bed and slept soundly?

  11. July 2, 2008 at 23:49

    Hey, where’s you get that picture of my kid from?

  12. July 2, 2008 at 21:15

    Bradley, It helps to hear that others make the connection that we have an illness that is more than behavior or mood changes. I know without a doubt that some folks with bipolar have a brain disorder. I say the folks who disagree may have not experienced the brain piece. They may not even have bipolar illness at all.Just as I know the illness I have is a brain disorder, I know that my pdoc and I have gotten me to a place of wellness. Yes I am on meds and they help me. That is the truth for me. Thanks for the great post! Annie

  13. July 2, 2008 at 17:50

    @ girlblue lol. I must admit it does sound much worse when the words come from someone else. @meg. As an alcoholic you may be interested to know that studies show this is the same part of the brain that stays in the same heightened mode for alcoholics and other addictions.

  14. July 2, 2008 at 17:35

    Depression and other mental illnesses are definitely herititary in nature,that much I am certain of, I’m not too sure if I’d want them to stick wires in my brain though.

  15. Meg
    July 2, 2008 at 17:12

    “Chihuahua Syndrome.” Hmmm. I relate to this very much. Perhaps thats why I have such a close bond with my Chihuahua cross miniature Poodle. (ie Chipoo… yes, it’s a breed, please google to see what a special girl she really is… LOL.) She is definitely a being I have an affinity with. Thank the stars I have her in my life. Peace.

  16. July 2, 2008 at 17:10

    Excellent!!! During trauma or depression, the amygdala forms neuro pathways that cause use to react in the same way to similar situations, so sometimes it feels like an automatic go to. Well, it is the brain gets wired to handle it in the same manner which is not necessary and usually unhealthy now. These pathways do not change, but the brain can form other neuro pathways, so that once you are in that automatic state you hopefully learn to access the new pathway. I hope that makes sense and it was okay to make a comment like this…my neuro pathway, whenever I assert myself…I am bad or should have said anything. Still working on it, but, at least, now I know. What to do with it is still a work in progress.

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