Physiological Stress and Human Stress Response [Interview][Transcript]

Dr_Mary_Wingo_Human_Stress_ResponseGuest: Dr. Mary Wingo
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Mary Wingo earned a Ph.D. in Human Stress Research from The University of North Texas. She emigrated to Ecuador, in South America, her eyes were opened to the unsustainable social, economic, and political costs preventable stress causes in the modern world. Dr. Wingo’s aim is to clearly explain to the public the biological mechanisms behind the stress response, as well as its staggering costs to society.

Segment overview: Dr. Mary Wingo, Ph.D, and human stress expert, discusses her book, “The Impact of the Human Stress Response”, why she wrote it, and the 20 year journey it took to do so.

Health Professional Radio – Physiological Stress

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program today, I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us here on Health Professional Radio, our guest in studio is Dr. Mary Wingo. Doctor Wingo earned her PhD in Human Stress Research from the University of North Texas, her specialty is Physiology specifically the human physiological stress response and she’s in studio today with us to discuss her brand new book ‘The Impact of the Human Stress Response.’ Welcome to the program Dr. Wingo.

Dr. Mary Wingo: Thank you so much Neal, it is a pleasure to be here.

N: Thank you. We all encounter stress, are you talking about the little everyday stressors of just living or are we talking about something that actually a hazard to our health?

W: Well to answer your question, I’ll try to answer this as briefly as I can. This is actually an examination on what the total contemporary thoughts of how the stress response and works in general, we apply it to humans because that’s what we’re most interested in but we’re talking organisms in general. And so this is a very, a deep overview that basically when you put together fifty plus years of research it sort of sums up what its thought in general as far as human adaptation.

N: You mentioned fifty plus years of research and experience, that right where I am, we’re in a society that’s seeing basically an explosion in stress related illnesses even to the point of early death. Why do you think that we’re seeing such an explosion here in our time?

W: Well this is what drove me to write the book. I actually didn’t want to write the book but I always kept up with this so it’s alwass what I would I consider an academic knowledge in this and I really said none of my other colleagues were gonna, I don’t know they never wrote a book. They just covered everything and the reason why I did this is that we’re at this point in a society that we got a lot of political upheaval, we got a lot of economic upheaval, social upheaval but what is this all come down to? It comes down to humans that are stressed and they’re so stressed because the environment for whatever reason is so stressful that they’re doing what they can to try to equalize and not succumb. Yes, there has been an explosion of stress related illnesses especially in mental illness and Neal this bankrupting the world basically. We’re talking just dealing with preventable stress somewhere minimum of five trillion a year and it could be, I don’t know ten, twelve trillion whereas gross world product is somewhere I don’t know, sixty-five, seventy trillion so we’re talking a huge chunk of our output is basically just going down the toilet as well as the human suffering aspect, it’s just going down the toilet. Now nobody else was addressing this so I was like was sort of impelled to do so.

N: The Affordable Care Act, most of that entire undertaking was about cost, they call it The Affordable Care Act. You’re talking about trillions of dollars to treat illnesses that are directly related to stress and then they turned into something else so it seems like a never ending circle. Is there anything that you offer in your book to help us to cope?

W: Yes and again it’s a rather, actually they’re pretty obvious that I wanted to give the vocabulary to the general average person because we scientists tend to speak in ways that nobody understands and since the public is paying for a lot of this research through tax dollars directly or indirectly I figured that they deserve to know. So okay, number one there’s a couple of little things just off the top of my head, number one you need to understand what stress actually is. Stress is the rate of adjustment that you go through in order to adapt to whatever environment you find yourself in. There’s two aspects, you got the environment and then you actually got the organism itself, okay. So one can affect the other, okay, so it’s not just all personal agency of the human, I mean if you have a toxic environment then all the mindfulness, meditation, the world is not gonna repair that. So I look at this at a complete like chemical, physical and of course psychological aspect and another thing so what we, oaky so to answer your question number one is to not pile on too may stresses, understand what it is. You read my book there are five aspects, there’s a five causes in the modernized world that caused the most amount of damage, well just get to know those, you can go to my website, you can get to know those…they’re everywhere and really be mindful of what you’re piling on because the stress response mechanism works in a fashion that is additive, okay. So if you add one sort of stressor like for instance and it’s always the negative things, so say you get married and then your mother dies and then you changed jobs and then you have to move residence, okay so you’re just talking a lot of adjustment there, good and bad, okay. We start piling these things on too quickly after one another that is when you get the highest risk of some sort of disease…

N: Is it more important to control the stress or to prevent the stress or is it a combination of the two or is there one of the other?

W: Yeah, it’s whatever you can do to lessen or attenuate your I mean exposure to stress. Now this is usually humans right now we’re overexposed for again these five specific reasons and another thing that one can do is sit down literally and this could take weeks to do and using these five categories I have, make a list of every single stressor that they have in their own life, okay like literally okay, like for instance I multitask at least twelve times a day, that type of list. I endure an hour and half of traffic every day, I endure a very hostile work environment nine-ten hours a day. Okay so you start writing these all down, okay and it could be a list in the hundreds, okay so this could take weeks and then you look at this it’s like okay it’s like making a budget like a food diary or a budget so you can control your spending, you just make this list and you go through and say “Okay, out with that, out with this, out with this” and if you need like the help of support group or like a therapist. I mean you could have someone like that help you be accountable like you would and other types of cognitive behavioral therapies.

N: So basically, because often times we can’t escape the stressors. I mean just the act of going to work, having a job is a stressor in itself. So I guess controlling the stress and shifting the way that we react to it, is that something that the Impact of the Human Stress Response addresses?

W: Well yeah. Let me kind of put something in perspective, okay. Say for instance you have a job, okay that it’s a very hostile work environment. Okay, now one way to address that is to make all areas outside that job more simple and more stressful. Okay for instance if you have stressful job and then you go home to relational problems at home, okay that’s just gonna cost you your early heart disease or you go home with massive amounts of debts and just tons and tons of bills that need to be paid that cannot be paid, okay. It’s other parts of your life that you have to really, really simplify but you look at this and then say “Should spending 19 hours of my life be so miserable?” And it hasn’t always been like this work, the state of labor was actually in a tolerable way not so foreign to the past and it was actually enjoyable for many people to go to work and create a middle class lifestyle but you have to really, when you’re at a very stressful job for instance you have to really understand the statistics on how just exposure to this constant stress, continual stress, is gonna very likely take off years of your life, it’s gonna possibly make you disabled, it’s a very, very common cause of disability in the modernized world and it could bankrupt your family because again not just the medical cost but the indirect cost of just losing function, the ability to work, the ability to care for your family in an effective manner. So you have to just kind of, I mean if people have the vocabulary and…words like Okay, so I can either risk my life and risk financial destruction especially in the US because of this or maybe I should sort of kind of think of finding another lines of work.

N: You’re talking trillions of dollars, you mentioned trillions of dollars before. What do you think why does this staggering amount escape our political leaders, our world leaders. What is the deal, I mean surely business owners know this cost, what about our leaders who shape our futures. Why aren’t they doing more?

W: Well actually business leaders don’t know because let me tell you, no one has ever really put it in to practical manners. I mean this is hard science, this is stuff that’s probably more complex than quantum mechanics. So you’re talking just getting a big picture together, like for me it’s taken 20 years of solid review, I mean watching just like the molecular level, the macro-physiological level, the ecological-political level. I mean just step by step, stage by stage in a hierarchy just looking at how stress affects each stage and it’s like finally when you start putting some numbers together you’re going “Oh my god” no one really, I mean they know it but they don’t know the hard numbers and seriously if government’s really knew the hard…what they’re spending if they have any sort of socialized health care, what they’re spending on just stress been, I would guess that policy would change very quickly especially in the workplace.

N: I don’t doubt it all. Now where can our listeners get a copy of The Impact of the Human Stress Response?

W: Well they can go to my website, and they can even get a free segment on my book where they can get started on their own path to recovery from excessive stress that they can download along with the video that I made it 11,500 ft. here on top of the mountain in Ecuador and so there’s a real good start that they can go, they can also go to

N: Great, great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard in studio with Dr. Mary Wingo. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.