Female Adversity: The Female Body and Brain on Toxic Stress

Hi All,

Three things I wanted to let you know about: later this weekend I’ll be posting a three part essay about women, toxic stress, and the female immune system — and why this topic matters now more than ever (more on that below!); an update on my next book, The Angel and the Assassin; and upcoming speaking events!

One thing readers know about the work I do and the books I write, including Childhood Disrupted, The Autoimmune Epidemic, and The Last Best Cure, is that I focus on the intersection of neuroscience, immunology and emotion – while shining a spotlight on WOMEN’s experiences. Connecting these dots is always an underlying theme in my work. Women, girls, toxic stress, the female brain and immune system, autoimmune disease and chronic physical and mental illness — if you care about any of these, keep an eye out for my upcoming three-part blog series in which I delve into the scientific links between them all.

I’ve written this upcoming blog, and am offering it up freely, because I think it’s crucial that we address the unique way in which the female brain and immune system respond to environmental influences, including #ACEs, and how, in turn, this unique female brain-immune response contributes to girls being several times more likely to later develop autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety disorders, and so many other chronic illnesses.

I’m going to break down for you, in a way no one else has, or will, how and WHY Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic childhood stress are a #metoo issue of the greatest magnitude. For girls and for the adult women they become.

If you haven’t yet signed up for my mailing list and/or my blog, you might want to now. (To sign up for my mailing list and newsletter, see the “Mailing List” subscription box to your right. To sign up for my blog, scroll down on the right hand side of this page to “Never Miss a Blog Post and sign up!)

I’m calling this three-part exploration:

Growing Up With Female Adversity: The Female Body and Brain on Toxic Stress. In it, I’m offering up the term — and hashtag — #FemaleAdversity — to refer to the chronic societal stress girls face growing up. Girls not only come of age with higher rates of #AdverseChildhoodExperiences, including verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse, girls also have to find their way to a healthy adulthood and sense of self amidst cripplingly narrow societal expectations regarding what is acceptable female beauty and behavior. All this is intensified, 24/7, by images of effortless female perfection on social media and in media in general. Meanwhile, girls are witnessing the sexual harassment and sexism so many adult women endure. Over time, this #FemaleAdversity can take a toll on girls’ and women’s immune systems, bodies, and brains in unique ways.

So, in this series I’ll be delving into:

Part One: Why Girls Who Face #ToxicStress are More Vulnerable to Adult Illness: The Shocking Relationship Between Being Female, #ACEs, #AutoimmuneDisease and #Depression.

Part Two: Every Woman Was Once a Girl: Why We Need to Talk About the Biological Effects of #FemaleAdversity on Women’s Bodies and Brains.

Part Three: #FemaleAdversity is a Unique Form of #ToxicStress — One We Haven’t Been Paying Enough Attention To — And We’d Better Start Soon.

If this topic interests you personally, because it speaks to your experience, or because you work with, teach, mentor, or are parenting girls, or if you work in #ACEAwareness or #trauma prevention, sign up for my blog and newsletter now.

2. Here, too, is a very brief update about my next book THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN: The Tiny Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine, and Gives us a Radically New Way of Looking at Human Well-Being, which will be out with Ballantine Books (Random House) in Fall 2019. I’m writing as fast as I can! And what I’m researching and reporting on is as promising for human health as it is mind-blowing. I’m happy to say, I’ve already turned in the first 200 pages.

In THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN, I’m on a mission to de-stigmatize brain-related health challenges, and to show how chronic conditions like depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, mood disorders, memory issues, and Alzheimer’s all involve one tiny, overlooked (and all too often, overactive) brain immune cell called microglia, which functions as the “white blood cell of the brain.” These tiny glial cells are in constant dialogue with the body’s immune system, and can be all too easily triggered by physical or emotional trauma, toxic stress, environmental toxins, infections, and inflammation in the body itself. All of these can, in turn, cause microglia to become agitated and destroy brain synapses and circuitry, generating neuroinflammation — in much the same way that rogue immune cells in the body can generate a slow brew inflammatory process that leads to the body attacking itself, as in autoimmune disease.

This truly amazing discovery – and the new understanding that the brain is an immune organ, ruled by these little reactive immune cells called glia — is one of the most revolutionary discoveries in the history of science, and it’s changing everything, including leading to exciting new avenues for treating seemingly intractable life-altering disorders.

Once again, in  The Angel and the Assassin, as in all my books, I’ll be examining what this means specifically for women and girls, who suffer disproportionately from trauma, toxic stress, autoimmune disease, depression, and so many chronic illnesses. Stay tuned!

3. Finally, for those who are interested in knowing about my upcoming events, here are a few of the venues where I’ll be lecturing over the next few months. Both of these events offer CME and CPE Credits for professionals who want to be trauma-informed, learn about ACEs Science, and the latest science on resiliency.

Keynote, Rutgers University DIS[RU]PT TRAUMA Conference, Thursday, May 31st, 9 a.m. – 12:00. I’ll also be offering a break out workshop.

Golisano Children’s Hospital 16th Annual Pediatric Conference, Saturday June 9th, 1:30, at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa.

Hope to see you at one of these events!

You can also find me on Facebook or @DonnaJackNak on Twitter.

Donna

Hope You’ll Come Say Hi at One of My Upcoming Talks

Hi Friends:

First I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of women who reached out to me, offering to be interviewed for my next book, THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN: The Tiny Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine, and Gives us a Radically New Way of Looking at Human Well-Being, which will be published by Ballantine Books (Random House) in 2019. Your emails and stories, moved me. I’m on a mission to de-stigmatize brain-related health challenges, and you’ve once again proven you’re the best readers on the planet. (I do have all the interviewees I need at this point, and thank you all for offering to help. You’re amazing.)

I hope the book, when it comes out, helps every one of you. I’m setting out to show — based on hundreds of hours of interviews with neuroscientists and thousands of research papers — how and why symptoms of depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, OCD, memory issues, and Alzheimer’s are unequivocally related to tiny, overlooked (and all too often, overactive) brain immune cells – called microglia – which function as the “white blood cells of the brain.” When these little cells get agitated by triggers like toxins, infections, stressors, physical or emotional trauma, they can destroy brain synapses and circuitry, causing “neuroinflammation” and “neurodegeneration,” the same way that your white blood cells cause inflammation in your body. This truly amazing discovery – and the new understanding that the brain is an immune organ, ruled by these little immune cells — is one of the most revolutionary discoveries in the history of science, and it’s changing everything, including leading to exciting new avenues for treating seemingly intractable life-altering disorders.

To report this book, I’ve been traveling all over the country. What I’m finding is pretty much blowing my mind. (For updates, sign up for my blog and newsletter (scroll down on the right hand column of this page!)

Meanwhile, I’ll be giving several exciting lectures this fall and I hope some of you will be able to come say hi. (Psst… if you’re a UK reader, I’ll be in London soon to deliver the keynote for an international conference on chronic pain, held by the amazing group, SIRPA, at the Royal Society of Medicine (details below). Please join us and say hi!)

Here are a few of the upcoming venues where I’ll be giving keynotes and doing booksignings:

October 2-3, 2017
Keynote Speaker, Booksigning and Workshop, Children’s Trust of South Carolina
2017 Prevention Conference: Embracing Prevention, Empowering Communities
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
1101 Lincoln Street, Columbia, S.C.
Register here.

October 15, 2017
Keynote Speaker, SIRPA Chronic Pain Conference
Chronic Pain: The Role of Emotions
Royal Society of Medicine
London, England
Award-winning science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa who will discuss the decades of research linking adverse childhood experiences to ill-health, including chronic pain, in later life.
To learn more about the role of Adverse Childhood Experiences and emotions in chronic pain, register here.

October 19th, 2017
Keynote Speaker
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital School Intervention Program,
Helping Children with Chronic Illnesses Thrive
I’ll be talking about Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology – and how we can help kids facing chronic conditions and medical adversity achieve resiliency and well-being.
Stony Brook, New York
Register here.

 

November 14th, 2017
1 p.m. EST, I’ll be giving a live interactive chat & talk on
Survival of the Nurtured: Well-Being, Self-Care, and ACEs, as part of ACEs Connection 2017 Parenting With ACEs Fall Chat Series
(Members of ACEs Connection can Join Parenting with ACEs Community & go there at time/day of chat. If you’re not a Member of ACEs Connection, you can become a Member (free). Join ACEs Connection a day or more before chat. Then, join the Parenting with ACEs Community (PWA) & go there at time/day of chat. See “featured chat” at top of PWA page.) Be sure to check out the other speakers, too — the amazing Sebern Fisher, and Belleruth Naparstek.)

Also, I thought I’d share this essay one more time; it recently went viral with over 2 million hits worldwide. If it resonates with you, feel free to share on social media. It’s about the importance of the medical profession becoming trauma-informed to better help patients: Childhood Trauma Leads to Lifelong Chronic Illness – So Why isn’t the Medical Community Helping Patients?

Hope to see you at one of the above events. And you can always find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s to your healing,

Donna

Want to Be Part of My Next Book Project?

Hello friends:

For my next book, I’m interviewing women and young adults experiencing mood, anxiety and/or learning/cognitive issues, who are curious about the concept that brain based symptoms have neurobiological, immunological, physical roots. If you are, or know, a woman in mid-life, for whom this resonates, and are in an extended family that faces depression, anxiety, mood and learning/cognitive issues, and would like to share your experiences and possibly have me report on your journey of discovery, please message me (or have them message me) by commenting below, or, contact me privately, here. If you have a family history of mental health and autoimmune disorders, this is also relevant. Interviewees can absolutely be disguised.

This is what my attic office looks like as I map out the chapters for my next book, THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN: The Tiny Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine — and Gives us a Radically New Way of Looking at Human Well-Being. I LOVE writing this book. The science is so exciting, and I think it will help so many readers. (Pssst… can you spot my writing companion in this photo?)

In this book, called THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN: The Tiny Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine, and Gives us a Radically New Way of Looking at Human Well-Being, which will be published by Ballantine Books (a division of Random House) in 2019, I’m looking at groundbreaking, recent scientific discoveries at top labs around the country showing unequivocally that symptoms of depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, OCD, memory issues, and Alzheimer’s emerge because of overactive brain immune cells – called microglia – which function as the “white blood cells of the brain.” In the face of 21st Century triggers — from stress to toxins – these little cells get agitated and destroy neurons and synapses, causing “neuroinflammation” and “neurodegeneration,” the same way that your white blood cells cause inflammation in your body. This discovery – and the new understanding that the brain is an immune organ, ruled by immune cells (just like all the other organs in the human body) is one of the most exciting and important discoveries in the history of science, and is leading to exciting new avenues for treating seemingly intractable life-altering disorders.

The fact that our brain is an immune organ and is affected by our immune health on a cellular level is not often addressed, yet this fact can have a profound effect on how individuals view their suffering, and the treatment they seek.

My goal is to de-stigmatize these diseases by taking you into cutting edge labs where neuroscientists are showing that brain based disorders are due to physical changes that lead to disease symptoms – and show what we can do to heal. Thanks!!

If this whole idea captures your imagination, and you and or your family are affected by these disorders – let me know!!!

This year’s Learning & The Brain Conference

In other recent news, I so enjoyed lecturing at this year’s Learning & The Brain Conference, in Arlington, Virginia. (Learning & The Brain teams up with Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, and other leading institutes to provide the latest findings on brain health and brain resiliency). I loved talking to an amazing group of educators about Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology – and how important mentors, adults and teachers are in helping kids achieve resiliency and well-being.

In my fall lecture series I’ll be speaking at venues including the amazing SIRPA international conference on chronic pain in London in October 2017;  Stonybrook Children’s Hospital, in Stonybrook, New York; and the South Carolina Children’s Trust, among other venues.

Don’t forget — reach out if my newest book resonates with you — I’d really love to talk to you! Comment below, or, if you prefer, contact me privately. Or, ping me on Facebook!

Thanks so much!

Donna

P.S. In case it’s helpful, fyi, I’m told that this weekend Childhood Disrupted is at its all time lowest price on Amazon — under $10.

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