From vulnerability to stress resilience
"Every person is familiar with the waxing and waning of stress and adversity, as it is and has always been, an integral part of our daily lives as humans. Relatively little is known what drives stress resilience, and which biological, psychological, and environmental factors drive an individual’s resilience capacity. We aim to combine knowledge, efforts and share data, but also join efforts to emphasize the importance of fundamental and applied resilience research to funding agencies, the government and the general public."
Chair of the TWG
Every person is familiar with the waxing and waning of stress and adversity, as it is and has always been, an integral part of our daily lives as humans. Modern-life society, however, seems to pose extra challenges for individuals. Overcoming the negative consequences of stress and adversity is undoubtedly a major societal and health challenge. Resilience is directly relevant for all psychiatric disorders, but importantly, also for almost all somatic disorders. Even though stress increases the risk for a wide variety of mental and physical disorders, the majority of individuals is able to stay resilient despite acute or chronic challenges. An increasing body of research has shown that the determinants of resilience are complex and include psychological, neurobiological and environmental factors. However, relatively little is known what drives stress resilience, and which biological, psychological, and environmental factors drive an individual’s resilience capacity.
The focus on resilience
In spite of its extremely high face validity and widespread resonance with the general public and professional groups, the concept of resilience is difficult as its operationalisation is rather complex, both in research settings, clinical care and training and education. Complexity, however, should not be equated with vagueness or lead to defeatism. It should in fact stimulate us to take the needed next research steps to overcome earlier limitations. This is precisely why a coordinated initiative on resilience at the European level is extremely important. Europe has a strikingly strong track record when it comes to research on important aspect of the psychoneurobiology of resilience, amongst others/in particular on the basic role of the stress system, but systematic collaborations on in particular the translational neuroscience of this topic are currently lacking. This thematic working group Resilience is timely in view of the increasing importance and relevance of new concepts of (mental) health and well-being as and the development of positive psychiatry in which resilience and coping are central themes Resilience research is truly transdiagnostic and transnosological in that it aims to disentangle underlying risks and resilience by linking basic biological and behavioral components of normal and abnormal functioning and is not constrained by the current DSM categories.
The TWG Resilience combines forces between researchers from different disciplines across Europe ranging from preclinical to clinical resilience research is needed to advance our knowledge and the stress field as a whole. We aim to change the current way of performing resilience studies, by combining knowledge, efforts and sharing data, but also join efforts to emphasize the importance of fundamental and applied resilience research to funding agencies, the government and the general public. Establishing a large-scale European translational research network involving excellent research groups through an ECNP TWG initiative with a focus on resilience has the potential to combine forces and accelerate research identifying who is resilient to stress and which factors contribute to an optimal stress resilience. Such an initiative may foster translational and transnosological academic and industry-academia collaborations that can develop new therapeutic and preventive interventions for patients, EU citizens and special groups such as first responders and military.