Stressful Events Can End Up Making People More Resilient

Stressful events can make us more resilient, according to a new study.

Scientists at Princeton say people can actually learn to be more resilient, which could help them cope better when facing new threats such as a pandemic. Dopamine is also released when we are exposed to stress, which in turn teaches us to become more thick-skinned.

For the study, researchers put small mice next to larger, aggressive mice and found mice that coped well with stress by fighting back became more resilient. By contrast, those that retreated into a cocoon did not. They also found that by activating dopamine when the creatures fought back, they could trigger greater resilience in them.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Lindsay Willmore, was intrigued by the small minority of mice who would defend themselves tenaciously when faced with an aggressor. “They’d turn back towards the aggressor, they’d throw their paws out, they’d jump on him, and they would just not give up,” Willmore says in a media release. “I thought, wow, there’s something going on in these guys’ brains that’s super interesting and could be the key to resilience.”