Course The science of stress and resilience

ECTS: 3.2

Course leader: Karen Johanne Pallesen

Language: English

Graduate school: Faculty of Health

Graduate program: ClinFO

Course fee: 3,840.00 DKK

Status: Course is open for application

Semester: Spring 2024

Application deadline: 29/04/2024

Cancellation deadline: 13/05/2024

Course type: Classroom teaching

Start date: 27/05/2024

Administrator: Thilde Møller Risgaard

The course C309/04 The science of stress and resilience is being offered by the Graduate School of Health, Aarhus University, spring 2024.

Criteria for participation: University degree in medicine, dentistry, nursing, or Master’s degree in other fields and/or postgraduate research fellows (PhD students and research-year medical students).

Requirements for participation: Basic knowledge about human psychology, CNS anatomy and physiology is an advantage, but not required. 

Aim: This course enables a qualified debate about the relevance and applicability of current knowledge on stress and resilience to advance mental health and clinical practice. 

Learning outcomes: After this course, participants should be able to:

  • Define stress and distinguish between stressors, stress and stress responses.
  • Describe the signaling pathways of the fight-flight/mobilization, freeze and calm-connect responses/states.
  • Describe the signaling pathways of well-being and resilience.
  • Place freeze, fight-flight and calm-connect states in the context of evolutionary biology. 
  • Describe automatized processing modes in the nervous system that make fight-flight “first choice” even in the absence of threats or real danger.
  • Describe the signaling pathways of commonly experienced stress symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweaty palms and “the mind going blank”.
  • Explain individual variation in stress sensitivity and resilience.
    • o How can childhood trauma predispose to life-long heightened stress sensitivity, and how can a safe childhood make you stress resilient?
  • Explain the link between long-term stress and 
    • o Cardiovascular diseases
    • o Metabolic diseases: metabolic syndrome, diabetes 
    • o Anxiety and depression
    • o Functional somatic syndromes 
    • o Autoimmune diseases
  • Explain the appearance of the stress epidemic
    • o What are the particulars of modern societies and ways of living that produce excessive stress? Are adolescents especially exposed to stressors, - or sensitive to stress?  
  • Present arguments why and how schools, work places and clinical practices could potentially benefit from insights into the science of stress and resilience.

Workload: The full workload of the course is expected to be 32 hours. The course will include two full days of lectures and exercises. Each participant will receive an article two weeks before course start, and will be required to give an obligatory short presentation of the main results and their estimated validity and perspectives.

Content: Stress, in particular an overactive fight-flight response, influences human health to a larger extent than often assumed, and the involved mechanisms are continuously revealed in increasing detail. This course explains the powerful effects of the physiologically deep-founded stress processes on our feelings, thoughts, decisions and actions, and uncovers the processes that underlie the transition from helpful stress to pathological stress, and the development of various mental and somatic diseases following long term stress. The course also raises the question of how we can protect ourselves from stress-related symptoms and diseases in a society that tends to generate high levels of experienced stress. In particular, we look into the psychophysiological mechanisms of resilience, and methods aimed at resilience training. Finally, we discuss the possibilities and potential benefits of integrating the science of stress and resilience into clinical practice, and in society at large, as mental health preventive efforts in schools, workplaces etc.

Instructors: Karen Johanne Pallesen

Venue: Aarhus University, Aarhus (other)

Participation in the course is without cost for:

Course dates:

  • 27 May 2024 08:00 - 16:00
  • 28 May 2024 08:00 - 16:00