Lessons Learned

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Have you ever been told the same thing multiple times but when you really need to remember that information you suddenly have amnesia? Some people experience this during test-taking if they get stressed out at the thought of taking a test.

Recently I was exasperated, discussing with my therapist that I don’t understand why I “know” all the things I should be doing to take care of my anxiety, but those things feel so inaccessible in the moment of anxiety. I said “how many times do I have to be told that X is what I need to do before I actually implement it??” She said there is actually a biological reason why I am unable to access what I know in times of high anxiety .

All of the things I “know” about how to handle my anxiety, resources that can help bring down my anxiety, and other strategies I have been taught through therapy, are stored in my prefrontal cortex. Anxiety disrupts the neuronal capacity of the prefrontal cortex by disrupting emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, and the control of behavior. This Psychology Today article states the results of one research study done at Pitt on how the prefrontal cortex is affected by anxiety: “First, anxiety often leads to bad decision-making, especially when there were conflicts or distractions. Second, bad decisions made under distress were correlated with the “unclamping” of very specific PFC neurons.”

The lead author of this study said it this way: “The data indicates that anxiety has an exquisitely selective effect on neuronal activity that supports decision making. We have had a simplistic approach to studying and treating anxiety. We have equated it with fear and have mostly assumed that it over-engages entire brain circuits. But this study shows that anxiety disengages brain cells in a highly specialized manner.”

So now that I am done nerd-ing out on you, what does all this mean for you?? That you deserve more grace than you are giving yourself, and some things are simply out of your controlno matter how hard you try. Hearing that there is a physical, biological process in my brain inhibiting me to put into practice all the skills I have learned in therapy makes me feel like less of a failure.

When I am not experiencing high anxiety during my therapy sessions, I can label and point out the things I need to start incorporating, the resources that help me, and how to prevent myself from getting into panic attack situation. Yet as someone who spends a lot of time in their mind and not their body, I sometimes don’t realize how anxious I have become until it’stoo late and I am already stuck in the hamster wheel. The dichotomy of all the knowledge I have and want to employ and what actually happens real time had me frustrated at myself for a long time.

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation I just want to impart some encouragement that you’re not alone. it takes a long time to re-wire our brains to think in a new way and we have to be patient with ourselves. Additionally, your therapist may have other techniques that they can try with you in order to reprocess old memories or beliefs that may be holding you back, talk to your provider if you have one and are also struggling with this issue.

As always, my hope is that you find a sense of relief that someone else is experiencing what you have experienced and thought before. And that you remember to be compassionate and kind to yourself without always throwing blame on yourself if something doesn’t go the way you think it “should.” I know we like to think we have control over our body and mind, but you probably don’t understand how to make your heart keep beating, or your eyes blinking, or your throat swallowing, so how can we think we have even the slightest bit of control over the most complex part of our body – our brain? The great news though is that our brains have plasticity, which means you have the chance to undo thought patterns and make new thought patterns as you work to think in a new way. It just takes time, and patience, and commitment. So keep showing up to do the hard work!

Becca Kritschil
PhD Candidate
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Daniel Remick selected as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal SHOCK®

Daniel G. Remick, MD
Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine

Daniel Remick, MD has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief for the scientific journal Shock® Injury, Inflammation, and Sepsis: Laboratory and Clinical Approaches.

SHOCK® publishes papers detailing novel therapeutic approaches including immunomodulation, gene therapy, nutrition, and others. The journal’s mission fosters and promotes multidisciplinary studies that critically examine the etiology, mechanisms and novel therapeutics of shock-related pathophysiology. The journal excels as a vehicle for timely publication in the areas of basic and clinical studies of shock, trauma, sepsis, inflammation, ischemia, and related states. Papers in Shock® emphasize biologic mechanisms that determine the response to injury since this information ultimately facilitates improved care of the traumatized or septic individual.

Shock® is The Official Journal of the Shock Society, the European Shock Society, the Indonesian Shock Society, the International Federation of Shock Societies, and the Official and International Journal of the Japan Shock Society.

Dr. Remick is a Past President of the ASIP and continues to be active on several of our committees, including the Research and Science Policy Committee (RSPC) and Publications Committee.

“I am honored to have been selected as the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Shock. My time on the editorial board of the American Journal of Pathology has helped me with ideas on how to improve the quality of the journal, and I am grateful to Drs. Furie and Roth for their mentorship while they served as Editors-in-Chief.”

Daniel Remick, MD

Pathology in Biotech and Industry Scientific Interest Group (SIG)

Pathology in Biotech and Industry is a new community within the membership of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) that is engaged in the science and focused on the issues that face pathologists, scientists, technicians, and those in training who are working in or considering working in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. 

Our two-fold mission includes:

  1. providing a forum for showcasing new and developing scientific findings, methods, technologies, and tools from the worlds of biotechnology and drug development, and
  2. establishing a community committed to recognizing members’ scientific achievements and devoted to fostering the development and advancement of pathology careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. 

Pathology in Biotech and Industry will provide innovative opportunities for productive networking, development of meaningful professional partnerships, and mentoring.

Dr. Cary Austin
Genentech Research Pathology

Dr. Shawn O’Neil
Pfizer Global Pathology & Investigative Toxicology

ASIP members from any membership category (Regular, NextGen, Trainee, etc.) who are involved in the biotechnology & pharmaceutical industries or those interested in opportunities in industry are eligible for membership and encouraged to join. If you are a current ASIP member and would like to join, please email Lisa McFadden. Otherwise, you can elect to join Pathology in Biotech and Industry when you renew your membership. Pathology in Biotech and Industry will have a presence on the ASIP website and will contribute to our scientific meetings by co-organizing scientific sessions (in conjunction with various Scientific Interest Groups), as well as educational and career development events (in conjunction with the Committee for Career Development and the Education Committee). We also look forward to the development of various programs to recognize the research achievements and promote career progression of ASIP members affiliated with Pathology in Biotech and Industry SIG.

More Information on ASIP.ORG