Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores the causes of stress and declining life expectancy in America with a documentary on HBO, One Nation Under Stress. Dr. Gupta talks with medical professionals, scientists, and people throughout the nation about increasing stress levels and the impact.
Anne Case, PhD Economist at Princeton University, explained how white Americans are reporting poorer health, more pain, more social isolation, and more depression, coupled with an increase in mortality from alcohol, drugs and suicide. Dr. Case along with her husband, Sir Angus Deaton, PhD, conducted a study Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century detailing declining life expectancy in America and the causes. Dr. Case coined the term “deaths of despair” which are deaths by drugs, alcohol and suicide. Dr. Case makes the comparison that deaths of despair are in a magnitude equal to all the deaths caused by AIDS in the U.S. since the beginning of the AIDS crisis.
“If you treat people in a really shabby way for long enough, bad things happen to them. That happened to African-Americans forever, and it’s started to happen to whites with a high school degree or less; starting probably in the mid 70’s. And now bad things are starting to happen to both those groups.” Anne Case, PhD
Although there are groups whom are faring better than others, we need to recognize we are connected, what hurts one group will inevitably hurt another. In Dr. Gupta’s conversation with, Dr. Charles E. Moore, the two discussed that inspite of improvements in certain elements for African Americans, there still is a higher rate of mortality in comparision to other dempgraphics, Dr. Moore shared, “For African-Americans, it’s been a chronic state of stress, for certain white populations it’s a new issue. The white working class have not seen that systematic type of oppression.” It is valuable that medical professionals are researching the causes, remedies and implications of stress. In conducting this exploration on stress, we may collectively apply what is learned to modify our behavior, actions, and how we treat one another.
We are all connected, and cannot allow anger, isolation, hatred or fear, to separate our humanity. We are in this together. Stress and uncertainty are tangible and felt by most humans in large daily doses. This documentary pieces it together, with personal stories, science, and observation of animal families, we share this planet with.
One Nation Under Stress, presents the palpable escalation in stress so many people are feeling with shared stories, and science. Inequality, discrimination, and social isolation all cause stress. The documentary talks about “social Darwinism” how empathy decreases as stress increases, with valuable societal questions proposed – are we demonizing poor people, are we discarding people who are addicted? One Nation Under Stress is an incredible true light view at what stress is doing to all of us.
“So close is the link between social circumstances and health, that health gives us a measure of how well we are doing as a society.” Sir Michael Marmot, PhD, Epidemiologist, University College London – Whitehall Study.