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“Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability (scientificamerican.com)
373 points by brahmwg on Oct 26, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

I recently ghostwrote a sizable text on diabetes, with one part dedicated to cortisol.

In short, cortisol is secreted due to a real or _perceived_ threat, meaning that by framing everything around us as challenges we avoid activating the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis that normally works during danger. Rats put in stressful situations showed a propensity to gorge on sweet and fatty food (cookies), since they impacted the brain just as much as natural endorphins; the rats were trying to calm themselves down after stress. The literature is monumental, one study is here [PDF]:


There are no threats, only challenges.

As a pretty stressed out T1, this sounds like some excellent advice to me. Thank you for this, I will definitely give it a read.

Thank you for linking to the text.

Is this why I eat crappy food when I’m under the weather?

The PDF I linked above shows that taking Naloxone, opiod antagonist, reduces the desire for junk food, meaning it's a literal addiction; trying to just quit cold turkey is just like opiod withdrawal that causes even more stress and binge eating.

Exercise helps, but again don't overdo it because you'll be causing more stress. Tai Chi (slow-motion kung fu) has been found to really help, take a look here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18927159

In some patients after 12 weeks of Tai Chi the metabolic syndrome, the dreaded pot belly that occurs because there are abundant cortisol receptors in the abdomen, shrinks or disappears completely.

Companies that have work environments that induce a lot of stress in their employees should pay more to society as opposed to companies that have low stress working environments, probably under the form of a tax of some sort.

It is clearer than ever at this point that high stress causes employees to underperform, and develop chronic physical and mental illnesses.

These diseases will end getting paid by society under one form or another, either by paying unemployment to burned out employees, paying the treatment of chronic illnesses, mental health care, etc.

So nothing fairer that companies that chew people alive and spit them out to become more socially accountable for what they are doing.

Not to mention the huge impact that this has on the stressed employee kids and family, by having to deal with a chronically stressed parent.

These companies are sometimes killing people, literally. They should not be allowed to continue to get away with it like its 1980.

I worked an intense amount of hours at a stressful company for about two years before I developed a blister on my retina due to the levels of cortisol in my blood (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_serous_retinopathy). My vision has been permanently damaged due to it. I thought I could power through and "sleep when I'm dead".

Don't do it folks, it's not worth it.

I have exactly same experience. The company and people were not too stressful, but the project and the situation was. It was my first job after graduating, and I was doing most SW alone in a project that, in hindsight, could never quite work due to some technological restraints.

I tried hard to make it work and was stressed often. Not worth... I blame myself mostly for being obsessed about the project, but I wish I would not have been working alone, especially as a newcomer to the field.

The lower hanging fruit might be making high school start later in the day. Kids are chronically under-slept, which leads to higher cortisol levels.

Don't they just go to bed too late ? Only speaking from my school experience, our school started at 7:30am was ok, but I only got to bed at like 11pm'ish - only cause I was fussing+fiddling with my pc. If school started at 10am - I would have gone to bed at like 2am !

There are studies showing the natural sleeping cycle of adolescents is shifted back a few hours from the norm. e.g. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1196/ann...

Yes, I think one of the keys to improving life for kids and teens is to stop trying to force them into an adult schedule. Their needs differ from those of adults in several other ways, so why wouldn’t that apply to their sleep cycles as well?

Because someone has to drive them (grade 9-10) to school probably

One reason IIRC is that the daily physical cycle for most people shortens as we get older.

Another thing is that the travel times to get to school is quite long in suburban/rural locations. I remember one job I had that had a long commute and I would see kids waiting for the school bus at 7 AM.

Contrast that with my high school, that was a 15 minute walk and didn't start till 8:15. Much less stressful.

> I would see kids waiting for the school bus at 7 AM.

Brutal! Taking this to the extreme - I saw kids in the extremely rural Copper Canyon, Mexico, catching the twice-daily bus at 5am to get to school every day. Though, to be fair they all passed out within minutes, despite the bumpy roads and regular breakdowns. I would be ruined within a week if I had to do it.

It's not just employees that suffer from high stress.

Coming from a family that has a few small businesses (construction, manufacturing, food), I can tell you that prolonged stress will age and exhaust you very quickly and the recovery doesn't always happen (PTSD has a long lasting affect). I remember reading Peter Thiel's book Zero to One (I think it was his book) where he mentioned being on the floor and dry heaving or where he was curled up in a ball crying/freaking out. I couldn't help but laugh because it's more common then you think.

Working for someone can be stressful but you can walk out if you need to.Running your own business and mortgaging your home and family is insanely stressful. Small business people typically have it the worst, it's not for the faint of heart.

This is one thing I thought was nice about the US healthcare system, that it aligns the economic incentives of companies with having healthier employees relative to other companies. Maybe countries that have a more efficient single payer system should nevertheless add a "Healthy Workforce Tax Credit" of some sort?

People don’t work at jobs for life any more. It’s common for younger people to switch jobs every 2-3 years. In this environment, it makes more business sense to work employees hard because the company doesn’t need to consider long term health. This creates a kind of prisoner’s dilemma where’s its only advantageous to invest in employee’s long term health if other companies do so as well.

I know the former CEO of one of the big U.S. health insurers. He has mentioned that on one side, as a doctor, he wanted to do good for patients long term, but, with shareholders on the other side, it can be very difficult to align incentives for long term health when most plan members will only be plan members for an average of 5-10 years.

Does it though? The most I see is mere lip service towards health with things like counting steps competitions and the like. The plans are whittled away each year (whether thats really under or outside the control of the purchasing company), or they just make you pay more and more if you want to include your partner/kids.

>This is one thing I thought was nice about the US healthcare system, that it aligns the economic incentives of companies with having healthier employees relative to other companies.

In what way do companies have an economic interest to have healthier employees?

Heck, in the US they can even just fire them when they get sick.

Premiums reflect the insurers experience with the company.

Some companies self insure and only have the insurance company handle the billing. This provides arm's length from employee's confidential health care.

Heck, in the US they can even just fire them when they get sick.

Well, they could, yes. But wouldn't company counsel advise them to just settle the inevitable lawsuit? (Serious question, BTW; not like this IANAL follows the case law.)

The FMLA covers specific things you may take unpaid leave for and must have your job when you come back.

There are a couple problems with this:

1) It's only for fairly serious conditions. If it's just "I feel like crap all the time because I've been stressed out for years" then in most states they can fire you.

2) It's unclear to me (IANAL as well) if they are required to extend non-pay benefits to you in that time, but I think not. So if they do not extend health insurance to you in that time, then you might be able to come back, but you'll be bankrupt.

If profit is involved, they likely don't.

How would you measure it?

Retention rate might be indicative and/or correlated with stress level. But I am pretty sure there are other ways too.

When using retention rate as a metric, it might also be important to include the reason for leaving as a factor.

For example, software engineers at tech giants might typically leave because they're bored, whereas employees in the Amazon warehouse might leave because they're burnt out and overworked.

Outright measuring cortisol levels would be nearly fool-proof.

No, just the opposite. The idea that cortisol levels are a direct indicator of stress levels is a myth. Stress is just one modulator of cortisol levels.

Measuring cortisol is extremely imprecise. Cortisol also has huge variability from one patient to another and depends heavily on time of day relative to a person's circadian rhythm, among other variables.

Cortisol measurements aren't even used clinically outside of conditions which cause extreme excesses or shortages of cortisol. For example, Cushing's syndrome or Addison's disease.

Consider that the reference range for morning plasma free cortisol has a lower limit of 5 ug/dL and an upper limit of 25 ug/dL. Obviously, you can't draw any conclusions about one's workplace stress if the morning reference range in normal, healthy volunteers already spans a 5X range.

Finally, the idea that cortisol == bad is just wrong. Cortisol is just one marker of a complex system. If you're in a stressful situation, you want your body to react with an appropriate amount of cortisol to help you deal with it. Cortisol only becomes problematic when stress is chronic day and night, or when your natural cortisol feedback mechanisms are degraded as might be the case in major depressive disorder.

So the government should routinely measure hormone levels of almost everyone, and levy fines against employers which will inevitably be passed on to employees or consumers. No thanks.

I think that the risk to one’s privacy is too great. I don’t want the government or my employer to collect biometrics on me.

I never believed that stress could be harmful. It seemed "mental" issue rather than "real" physical problem.

Until I got blinded by stress! Excess stress hormone can even damage your eyes, its called central serous retinopathy... My central vision is gone and have hard time reading, I cant continue my career as programmer anymore.

Its surprising how damaging excess cortisol can be to a person

I had a huge stress period last September. During that month, I passed out twice and had 3 hour-long panick attacks.

Since then, I've had jaw pain, constant pressure headaches, vision troubles, vertigo, depersonalization/derealization, and feel totally weak physically.

I've seen so many doctors this month, and they all told me the same thing: it's stress. It's crazy to see how one very stressfull week has totally fucked up my whole body, and that two months after I'm still not fully recovered from it, and I don't think I will every feel totally normal again.

Sorry you had a similar experience and got lasting damages from it, I wish you the best for the future.

Take a look at minerals too. I have a tendency when stressed to drink a lot of caffeine during the day and then alcohol at night. Stress also drops my body temperature and I start to urinate a lot, up to the point that my urine is completely clear and I keep going. Those things drop my levels of magnesium. When my magnesium is low, I start to have jaw pain and eye tics. Those then trigger more stress.

It took me a lot of time to figure out this vicious circle. Your body might not work the same but I encourage you to look at the problem from every angle.

Yeah, I started taking magnesium supplements, a month ago, but I don't feel like it's helping in any way for now. Maybe it just takes time

If this does not resolve months after removing stress, it might not be "just stress" and you need to look further. For example I was recently diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism after more than a year of vague disabling symptoms and no answers from doctors (I came to the diagnosis after my own research). Just in case, you might want to check your blood calcium. Many doctors when they don't know what is happening will give you a vague diagnosis like "stress" and "it's all in your head" but you could have a real underlying disease that can possibly be treated. Heck, when I explained to my doctor I used to have more stress years ago in college and have lately been basically stress-free after getting a good job, the doctor proceeded to explain how removing stress can cause problems.

The scientific data is pretty thin, because we (general we) only recently have the tools to study that, but it is people living under constant anxiety or depression do have measurable neuronal “damage” which we believe are permanent (we actually are not sure if they are damaged, but it is somewhat similar to hallmark of other aged-related diseases like AZ and PD).

Those who have been on medication since the early stage of their depression or GAS do not have those damaged or not to the same extent.

So it’s very important to get treated, both via medication, because this is chemical problem, and therapy, because our understanding of this chemistry doesn’t go very far, and in the end you still want to function in your environment, even when you feel or know that it is making you sick.

About those "jaw pains," I would HIGHLY recommend you get a bite / stunt to wear at night. You never know when you could start grinding your teeth at night (you really don't know, because it happens when you're the most unconscious) and you could ruin them in a very short time. Forever.

Yeah my doctor recommend that too. I've also dreamed a lot about losing my teeth, which is apparently related to grinding your teeth at night!

Things I found changed my life:

* read The Body Keeps the Score * get a massage at least once a month * Start a regular yoga practice * Start journalling with pen and paper * Find ways to get outside in nature / around water

God speed

Thank you, I've been thinking a lot about trying yoga recently and I might look into that

You'll feel normal again. It's going to take time and tactics, though. Do plenty of reading on how to deal with stress and you'll find mechanisms. It can take months, yes, but the time to feeling 'normal' again can be cut with the proper measures.

Sorry you’re in pain. Your mileage may vary, and I’m not a doctor and all that, but one thing that has worked wonders in my own life is cognitive behavioral therapy.

You can get the gist of it in this chapter from “The Feeling Good Handbook”, which was written by one of the pioneers in the field:


That, and getting plenty of sleep.

I'm very familiar with cognitive behavioral therapy, it helped me so much with social anxiety. I love it and I recommend it to a lot of friend.

I also agree that sleeping is very important, and I've forced myself to sleep more in the past year, with good results (well except last month)

You probably have developed trigger points in your scalene muscles. Just a guess.

It's wild how it can affect you.

In my younger days - nothing bothered me. Then I had 'that job', like many in the comments have talked about. Stress to the max. It took me to some dark, dark places.

Eventually - I just said "this isn't worth my life" and quit. Just up and walked out. I vowed never again would I let a job have that affect on me.

I've lived from then on with that as my mantra, although lately - stress is creeping back in at my current place.

Thank you. You may have saved my vision.

About 4 months I was beginning to see some spots in low illumination conditions but my doctor told me it was nothing to worry about. The spots stopped after 2 months. But last week I began to see the spots again, smaller, but still there.

When I read about central serous retinopathy several things made sense - both times I was under severe stress AND undergoing treatments with corticosteroids. Also, I have a very low threshold for stress.

I'll make a new appointment and specifically mention this and ask for tests.

Again, thank you!

An ophthalmologist would be the best person to go to, because they can dilate your pupils with eye drops and inspect your retina very closely to look for abnormalities.

That being said I believe CSR generally resolves on it's own except for more severe cases which it sounds like OP has...

Yes, go to opthamologist. The doctors I had been to (both ER and GP) were not familiar with my condition and just referred me.

Cardiovascular system can also suffer serious permanent damage from prolonged stress. Especially since people usually try to vent the stress by some other unhealthy habits like eating junk food and drinking or smoking, just making it worse.

Stress can also cause diabetes, which in turn can also leave you blind.

Are you sure you haven't developed diabetes? I'm asking because it seems that a lot of people suffering from it are not diagnosed until it's too late.

wtf. You do know that people die from too much stress, right?

Yes, I had heard, but mostly about depression or burnout. While those are bad, person usually recovers to back to normal, so I was not that afraid being super-stressed.

I had never heard it can damage your eyes permanently. It is not very common, but can happen.

When I am super-(dis)stressed then my mental constitution is best characterized by a constant high level of fear. Which is unsettling by itself and will give me a strong urge to leave this situation. From that angle I find it surprising that it seems that being super-stressed didn't seem to bother you on its own. Was it a eustress experience for you that felt good?

Of course, I didn't like being super-stressed, but I was not afraid/aware of what it could do to me. It was difficult to get rid of some of the biggest stressors...

Biggest one has been chronic pain, for which doctors cannot do much. Another was the project at work, which was technologically "almost possible", but could never meet what the customer was expecting.

I experienced severe cognitive decline in my 20s from the stress of running a startup.

The most alarming part was the loss of vocabulary. I was an avid reader and couldn’t call to mind fairly simple multi-syllablic words.

It took 5 years of bumming around in the mountains to heal the damage.

Holy crap, that's exactly what happened to me!

My solution was to say sayonara to everybody and move to Tokyo, to attend a full time Japanese language school, with people generally 10–20 years my juniors. I'm doing good so far, I'm making tons of friends and the school is keeping my mind and my schedule full. (I just picked a random interest and a sufficiently far away place. It could have been cooking or hiking in the Andes, for what matters.)

It's too early to say whether I'm recovering. I hope so. I think I'm seeing some color returning to my hair, but it might just be the light.

For what it’s worth, I had a very similar thing happen to me. I guess I never made the connection until now. After a year, my intellectual curiosity is just starting to return. That you feel repaired gives me hope.

10 years later I’m now operating at 100% but I’m extremely careful to be stress avoidant.

For the first 3 years of doing almost nothing productive the progress was quite slow.

In retrospect, a couple of high dose psilocybin sessions may have sped up recovery by reprogramming some of my identity that was at the core of the stress.

How do you make a living though? One cannot just 'do nothing productive' and pay rent and bills?

I'm in the midst of that bumming around phase after 5+ years doing the startup thing. Year 1. It's great.

Not to get off topic, but this is further proof that poverty is more than a financial condition.

I believe it is. OECD considers this under the broad heading "intergenerational transmission of disadvantage". In a crude way, it is equivalent to saying that poverty is largely hereditary (sic). This, if the factors at play to break this intergenerational poverty cycle are things like IQ, scholastic performance and even basic literacy.

If the impoverished are living cortisol-stress-filled lives epigenetics explains the offspring to suffer the same physiological conditions. However, there are folks who have individually bootstrapped out of these conditions of inherited poverty (the so-called self-mades), but these breeds are rare. The vast majority of the poor continue to produce offspring who aren't given a chance to grow up on a stress-free environment.

Edit: I think I may have been hasty with my reply. You were talking of the impact of stress on causing individuals to make poor financial decisions. My reply went into cycle of poverty.

I was talking about both. That is, as I feel you also stated, poverty is a symptom. It is not a personal choice. Instead it is what happen when you subject people to stress, lack of hope, lack of opportunity, bad food, sub-par living conditions, violence, evictions, etc.

Long to short, you don't cure poverty. You aim to cure the things that create, drive and perpetuate it. And you certainly don't blame those caught in the cycle.

While I may agree with you, didn’t the article say people were relatively well off?

I was speaking about stress. The fact that chronic stress has negative impact on decision making, etc.

To your point, if stress effects the relatively well off, imagine what happens to those are struggling to get by.

It's more than stress though it's hierarchy of needs.

If you don't have food in the pantry, you're not worried about saving for retirement. And that's probably sensible.

If you don't have food in the pantry AND you are not able save for retirement, you definitely worry about both. People aren't machines that just consider the most urgent worry in a priority queue of some sort.

Maslow's hierarchy has no supporting evidence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs#Cr...

Individuals can absolutely worry about more than one thing and different needs can change "ranks" daily depending on life circumstances.

A lot of well paying jobs are very stressful. Meanwhile many low-skill jobs are not stressful. On top of that, well-off people frequently feel a lot of stress for "keeping up with the Jones".

Sure, we could say that well-off people stress is not as important and they just shouldn't stress about unimportant stuff. But stress is stress and people ability to stress out is relative, not absolute. Even today's poor people are much better off than average people from 200 or 2000 years ago. Yet average stress level seems to be getting higher and higher.

>Yet average stress level seems to be getting higher and higher.

An important point is the occurrence of "Dominance Hierarchies" which has been persistent in animals/human since the dawn of time. In a small hamlet, it was 'easy' to become known as the best blacksmith, the fastest runner, the best storyteller. You physiology literally changes and you gain an increase in dopamine receptors.

With the rise of technology, we are exposed to Dominance Hierarchies of much grander scope. Kids (and adults) are evaluating themselves against Instagram models and NFL Stars. A 14 year old can win their local brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament and still feel inadequate.

Maybe we should teach kids that they don't have to be the world best to matter then. Role modeling respect toward non winners too. You don't need "dominance hierarchy" to go away entirely, just give them coping skills and don't amplify it by winner takes all systems.

But also, even today you can be good in your immediate social circle and in the past to be in environment of big competition.

Overall we should put more emphasis on journey than on the goal. It's OK to strive to be world's best. But it's OK to not become one and just be 150th on the grand standing. Journey is what matters. Even if you do become world's best, you'll probably won't be world's best a moment later and journey is all you'll have left.

I respectfully disagree that many low-skill jobs are not stressful. They can often be dangerous, unpleasant, and managed by little tyrants, all of which leads to stress.

Is a run-of-a-mill McJob stressful by itself? Now compare that to stock trading where you're risking sums you wouldn't earn in your lifetime daily.

On top of that, management jobs add stress of dealing with your subordinates. You're responsible for their mistakes as well as their wellbeing depends on you. One of the most stressful things in running small business is know that your employees' families depend on you.

Scum managers exist at all levels. Even if you at executive level, it's likely you'll have investors or owners above you. I suppose HN is aware how stressful dealing with VCs is.

Re low skilled jobs

I don't know, the thought that you're pushing a broom because of a laundry list of things (e.g., bad school system, unavailable parental support, etc.) you had no control over has to be demoralizing and stressful.

No one wakes up thinking, I want to be disadvantaged.

If this is worth exploring, do it right: make an experiment and actually measure these things. Imagining is not science, and we shouldn't make decisions on things we've merely imagined.

The OP __is__ actual. It says (in short) "stress not only effects the body, it effects the mind." That's enough.

Certainly, you're not suggesting we need a study on whether poverty is stressful or not.

The arc of my original comment is: Some well say, "Well, poverty is a decision. Those in poverty need to make better decisions." Unfortunately, that's naive. It does not consider the fact that stress has a negative impact on the brain, on decision making.

Certainly, you're not suggesting we need a study on whether poverty is stressful or not.

You didn't ask us to imagine if "poverty is stressful"; you made a different claim entirely.

Kind of a weird smackdown. Are we not allowed to make observations on Hacker News until we've backed them up with a peer-reviewed study?

When drawing conclusions, like "stress effects those struggling to get by worse than the relatively well off", I would always err on the side of evidence over imagination. Imagining something isn't even an observation.

That is a mischaracterization of the comment you responded to. He was appealing for another commenter to imagine the impact of stress on one who is struggling economically given what we know about the effects of stress. We don't have to set up a peer-reviewed study to do that. We can both imagine and yield to evidence.

Good point.

Well, those studies have already been done. And poverty is shit for you.

Stress has a lot of damaging effects in our body. For example it also causes high blood sugar, because it puts your body in a fight or flight mode. High blood sugar gives rise to higher insulin levels, which inhibits leptin and gives you insulin resistance and thus you can develop symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, if not full blown T2 diabetes. Cortisol is also correlated with high levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

This is why if you're stressed ... you can develop diabetes, heart disease, obesity and who knows what else. Stress is an evolved tactic to escape short term dangers. But humans are not designed to be stressed all the time.

I have a close friend that developed diabetes following a period of high stress due to his small business going broke.

Take care of your health first. And sleep 8 hours per day.

> Brain changes, visible on scans, are also associated with Alzheimer’s precursors

Interesting. Since they're speculating a link between cortisol and alzheimer's and there's already established linkages between cortisol and herpes reactivation [1], herpes spreading to the brain in certain vulnerable populations [2], herpes activation in the brain and an amyloid response [3], and a potential mitigation for symptoms by arresting herpes activation [4], I wonder if the cortisol/alzheimer's link might evaporate of the herpes/alzheimer's hypothesis continues to prove out in drug trials?

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469259/

[2] https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(18)30526-9

[3] https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(18)30526-9

[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17540094


Substantially reworked the comment given some of the confusion the initial comment seemed to generate. I'm pretty passionate about this angle, as past commentary of mine here might indicate. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17945738

this comment makes no sense

Edited a clarification surrounding the fourth reference, which I suppose is why I posted the comment in the first place. Basically, the submission argues that cortisol may increase the risk of alzheimer's, but we've arguably got a more robust body of knowledge pointing to a much more direct risk (herpes) and therefore potentially a more effective chokepoint that might moot the cortisol/alzheimer's link, if one such link exists.

The context is there is a theory that herpes viruses are linked to Alzheimer’s. See e.g. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/21/6219083...

There are many theories about the cause of Alzheimer's.

Previously on HN:

- Alzheimer's is caused by dirty air. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18230932

- Alzheimer's is caused by lack of sleep. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18228627

- Alzheimer's is a form of diabetes. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4578267

- Alzheimer's is caused by herpes. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18265115

Also, brain damage is a result of Alzheimer's, not a cause.

I wouldn't be surprised if eventually we'll figure that what we call "Alzheimer's" is in fact a whole bunch of different diseases that all cause plaque buildup in the brain.

Same with atopic dermatitis. Everytime I talk to someone and they notice the red patches on my skin and I say it's atopic dermatitis, they immediately start rambling about how the friend of their cousin's barber totally got that fixed up with that magical treatment and I have to try it. At which point I tell them that atopic dermatitis is mostly a symptom, not a single disease.

Holy shit, I thought you were joking but most of those were in the last 2 weeks.

Right? And if you extrapolate research like the sleep deprivation research further out, it ties in pretty well with the thinking that sleep deprivation keeps the brain from clearing the byproducts of a fight against herpes reactivation.


Herpes is a normal virus, for the most part. The key mutation that makes it so annoying is its time-release capsules to reinfect cells every so often. So which "byproducts" are cleaned out?

Assuming the working theory from one of my previous citations on beta amyloid is correct, it's the beta amyloid produced to entangle the herpes virus in the brain that's cleaned out nightly by sleep.


Less sleep -> more beta amyloid link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16026655

Beta amyloyd -> herpes entanglement: https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(18)30526-9

None of this is definitive, mind you, but as each new bit of research comes out, a new piece of the puzzle appears to be put in place. Ultimately the question ends up being answered by a more comprehensive wide-scale experimental study tracking herpes mitigations of any sort and any possible reduction in alzheimer's occurrences, basically a larger version of this: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322463.php

Do you have any information about beta amyloid that doesn't involve Alzheimer's? I wanted to learn about the enzyme itself. Filtering "-Alzheimer's" on Google provides no articles, merely fact sheets and ordering forms.

Honestly, the only thing I'd ever seen addressing the protein in a manner tangential to Alz was the herpes entanglement research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26836158).

Wikipedia might have good references as a starting point though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyloid_beta

Wikipedia: The normal function of Aβ is not well understood.[7]

Most of the page is dedicated to the Alzheimer's connection. Even that quote came from Alzheimer's research.

[7]Hiltunen M, van Groen T, Jolkkonen J (2009). "Functional roles of amyloid-beta protein precursor and amyloid-beta peptides: evidence from experimental studies". Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 18 (2): 401–12. doi:10.3233/JAD-2009-1154. PMID 19584429.

Yeah, that seems to be the older understanding. We've now got two studies pointing to the role of beta amyloid as being substantially tied to tangling either herpes virus particles specifically or potentially pathogens in the brain more generally.

Linked previously but I'll link again:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26836158 dated 22 Feb 2016

https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(18)30526-9 dated 11 Jul 2018

These seem to reference Alzheimer's only in passing or potentially in relation to the infectious theory, but they specifically speak to the action of Beta Amyloid.

These do make beta ameloid sound like a virus-net, sticking to any and all virii inside the brain. And since herpes has that time-release capsule to keep reinfecting a host user, that person's brain could have more beta ameloid plaque to clean. The efficacy of brain cleaning goes back to numerous factors, including age, hours of sleep, air quality, diabetes and other diseases, etc.

In short, it's based on number of virus infections, which herpes greatly increases. So I agree that your hypothesis is sound.

Lost one of my sources in the comment rework. [2] should be https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14534428

Question, why was a Facebook click event (fbclid) query string included in the URL for this article? Did you find the article on Facebook and forget to remove the string, which results in anyone on this site that clicks on the string to be identified to Scientific American's site analytics as having come from a Facebook page, and thus mis-attributing traffic.

That fbclid appended to the url.

Hey at least now it's public and not hidden somewhere deep in Facebook's shadow profiles code.

Asthmatics might be interested to know that many of the long-term treatments use molecules based on cortisol. Check out the similarity of these:




This is because one of the effects of cortisol is to suppress immune response.

And, just a thought, there was news recently that the incidence of Alzheimer's was reduced in people on long-term anti-viral drugs. The hypothesis being that Alzheimer's is partially caused by a virus. High cortisol levels (or their related asthma treatment molecules) would reduce immune response and therefore we could predict today's result from the previous one. I've probably over simplified the situation.

Man, allergists might actually have to do some real science soon instead of coasting on diphenhydramine, prednisone, selling shots, and various other remedies that haven't changed since 1955.

Oh yeah, forgot monoclonal antibodies, the new, ungodly expensive series of IV drugs that have amazingly awful side-effects. Can't wait to see what those do to bodies 10-50 years down the line.

Pretty light article. For those thinking they have too much stress, run it off. Our systems treat stress the same way it did back when stress meant fight for survival. The body needs one to exert at a high cardio rate during and after stress. That is our natural response. Not backing stress with a sweat inducing release is what causes all these negatives.

This sounds like good advice but is it theoretical or is it actually backed by science?

It's pretty well proven that reduced stress is one of the (many) benefits of regular exercise

I linked to some of the key research findings in this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18307333

Exactly, exercise (and I would add diet). Exercise and diet help many of the common health problems. Hard time sleeping? Exercise and diet. Too much stress? Exercise and diet. Body composition problems? Exercise and diet.

Everyone should strive to exercise every day.

This is one way in which the effects of poverty and social exclusion compound. Poor people are of course more stressed.

Does anyone know a good way to test cortisol on one's own?

Get a blood test? If you’re in the US and don’t want to have to convince your doctor why you need/want this test, just order it yourself from a place like healthlabs.com - I don’t work for them - I’m a satisfied customer.

Cortisol levels vary all the time... a blood test would only measure cortisol at one point in time.

There are cortisol tests which which require you to submit urine sample of the whole day - from morning to evening.

Does it have to be done in a lab or is there a ph or ketostix like device that could measure it at home?

I don't know of a device that can measure it at home, but there are mail-in saliva cortisol kits from companies like Genova Diagnostics, Labrix, and ZRT Labs. You usually send them several samples collected at specific times throughout the day.

They're mostly designed to be ordered by a healthcare professional, but you can get a few of them direct on Amazon, or through companies that order on your behalf (similar to healthlabs.com mentioned above).

I was given a big plastic jar with a certain kind of acid in it. Had to pee straight into the jar the whole day. Next day, the jar had to be handed over to the lab.

I've had my cortisol tested quite a bit (I had a pituitary tumor. Most recently they tested with a salivary cortisol test which is supposedly good now. Previously they'd do a 24hr urine test for the best results. That's in addition to a blood test for cortisol.

Seconding this. I did a 24-hour saliva test years ago when I seemed to be having issues related to adrenal function.

It seems that it's important to get separate samples spaced evenly throughout the day, as it is not just a single reading at any time that matters, but the relative levels at different points during the day.

For anyone coping with huge amount of stress, try the following:

- deep breathing for a minute (should significantly reduce cortisol)

- take sauna (proper hot/cold cycles)

> - deep breathing for a minute (should significantly reduce cortisol)

If true, this shows that there is a controllable mental component to stress. First step is recognizing when you are stressed. A mental technique I use is to pretend I'm outside my body watching my response. This helps me put things in perspective and calm down. A technology thing I use is my Apple Watch. It alerts me if my heart rate goes up without also moving like I would for exercise. It's a quick reminder to stop, relax. I rarely get alerts from the AW anymore, because I've become attuned to recognizing when stress is oncoming and I can take measures to calm down.

My final technique is exercise every single day. I tend to workout right when I wake up, but if life gets in the way I sometimes do not get to it until later. But, it is an exceptional day if I miss a workout.

I think consistent exercise is extremely important as well. And it should be right sort of exercise. I found yoga to be a key activity. It leaves you alone with yourself, no one to compete with. You eventually have to succumb yourself and just exist. There are some varieties of yoga like ashtanga which in my opinion is best for this.

I second the sauna! A great way to switch off after work.

Specifically focus on “belly breathing” as low in your diaphragm as possible. Slow belly breathing is proven to reduce emotional arousal.

The great thing about chronic childhood stress is that it paradoxically lowers cortisol levels later in life. Take that, Alzheimer's!

Well, that's me done. I live on Cortisol.

I did too a few years back, and it clouds the brain no-doubt. It got to the point where something had to be done, and so I set everything aside and dedicated 6 months to figuring out how to fix it.

Read this book: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ratey), the professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

I have posted on the effects of sprints several times over the years so rather than repost again, here's a link to the threads: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byPopularity&prefix&page=0&date...

Running sprints were key, but inflammation due to diet was part of it too (a latent issue not widely discussed, but a factor more common than you might think). I solved that by eliminating certain foods one by one that are known to cause inflammation. Peanuts were one, and eliminating aspartame (diet coke) had a noticeable effect within just a few days (I verified it wasn't the caffeine by adding back tea and coffee, and those had no noticeable effect).

Here's some links to the original Harvard and USG research findings on the issues with aspartame and artificial sweeteners/flavors in general, like why it's banned it baby food: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6703802

I think a huge component of this is the ever-present stigma of mental health and counseling. People who are incredibly stressed and suffering mentally and physically should be able to visit a therapist as easily as they can a doctor. When they don't, or feel like they can't, they lose the chance to learn helpful coping mechanisms and life strategies which can have a drastic impact.

people think they can tell others how to reduce stress, this is dumb. stress is personal, and how you deal with it is personal, so self-reflect, and listen to yourself, if you are having the idea you are impacted negativly by your stress.

look at it this way: you have so many input bandwidth. stress is the input. any input causes stress, but there is plenty of bandwidth generally to handle this. only when there is too many incomming bandwidth, it can lead to loss / DOS. It's personal what packets you want to handle and which you'd like to drop. this is what you can only decide for yourself.

so there is no magic bullet some researcher will invent for you to feel relaxed again. you need to figure that out for yourself. someone can guide you along your way but not tell you the way you should go... if you let people choose for you, this will lead to MORE STRESS

Does anyone know the relationship between stress and hair loss?

Are you referring to clumps of hair falling out on a woman, or male-pattern baldness?

Any food that can lower cortisol?

Answering the inverse of your question: caffeine increases cortisol production.

The quicker solution to reducing cortisol may be to cut down on caffeine than to eat more cortisol inhibiting foods.

As much as that may be considered a personally offensive suggestion to a lot of people...

If anyone is trying to cut down caffeine, I noticed that as I have cut my refined sugar intake to minimal levels that my need and desire for caffeine more or less vanished. Maybe its a personal reaction but might be worth try for others. (It can be pretty difficult, sugar is feels way more addictive than caffeine to me).

My intake of refined sugar is very low (usually 0 most days), but I still crave caffeine quite a bit. I find the only way I can cut coffee is to taper it back and suffer for a few days, and even then I can't get down to zero caffeine intake. I tried quitting all forms of caffeine for about a month and I'm never trying that again as it was pretty horrible the whole time.

Note that caffeine does not increase cortisol, it reduces the time your body takes to clear/lower cortisol.

Everything I've previously come across has pretty clearly stated that coffee stimulates cortisol release in the body. That's one of the ways it fundamentally works to stimulate alertness.

This study linked to below is about developing tolerance to caffeine, but the very first line says: Caffeine increases cortisol secretion in people at rest or undergoing mental stress.


Reduces? Because then that’s the opposite of what the other guy was saying, and we should all drown our stress with caffeine.

What if cortisol isn't the problem, but the production of it? Afaiu, the adrenals are like a switch: if they produce cortisol, they can't produce other hormones.

So keeping cortisol up through other means could possibly be beneficial.

Reduces the time to remove the cortisol.

Well, a reduction in the time it takes to remove the bad thing, is a positive, isn’t it?

I think what they means is that the amount removed per unit time remains the same, so if the body spends less time removing cortisol there will be a buildup.

this is hilarious. two comments from two different users made the same apparent mistakes with their intended meaning.

"reduces the time taken" = "speeds up"

From context, it seems like the intended meaning is that caffeine slows down the cortisol removal, but what was actually written was that it speeds up cortisol removal.

What about decaf coffee?

Has some caffeine, though less. I imagine it's an improvement?

I quit caffeine entirely and my stress lowered. Decaf produced similar results as caffeinated. Only total cold turkey seemed to let my system kick it (took two weeks).

YMMV. If you're not having major symptoms or dependency issues, then "less" will generally be less severe than "more".

Side note: Licorice. It is weird in a cortisol context because it increases the half-life of cortisol, but that means that your body doesn't have to produce as much cortisol as it otherwise would. Why would you want this you may ask? Because cortisol and testosterone are made from the same precursor hormone, pregnenolone. So, by elongating the lifespan of cortisol more pregnenolone is left over to make testosterone from. Charles Poliquin (RIP) swore by the stuff for his athletes.

Rhodiola + Ashwagandha is my go to at the moment. Haven’t used either long term but, I’m really surprised by the combo.

Rhodiola is meant to be cycled, divide the duration you stay "on" by three, and that's how long you should be off it. Don't be "on" for more than 12 weeks.

On/Off 3/1 6/2 3/9 12/4

> As with other adaptogens, administration of Rhodiola rosea should coincide with stressful situations only – athletic or otherwise – and periodic intervals of non-use should be observed.

> Put it this way: once Rhodiola has enabled you to adapt to physical or environmental stress (training, dieting, work, etc.), you can't adapt any further. That's when you cycle off Rhodiola.

Source: https://biotest.t-nation.com/products/rhodiola

Thanks for sharing this. That rule is helpful

Do you find you are more aggressive after taking them? I find it increases for me , maybe the reduction in stress makes me feel more at ease to be able to assert and be disagreeable lol

100% anecdotal, but I get frustrated/angry/grumpy with ashwagandha. Very sleepy, too, but it does not fill me with positivity.

The first time I took it, I took two 500mg capsules and felt something similar. Since then, I have only been taking 500mg and feel fine.

Whole 30, and anything that promotes a healthy gut. Also lots of sleep

Sleep is awesome. It's key to so much for our bodies, and yet we so easily neglect it.

I do my best to get 8 to 9 hours in bed, and hopefully sleep, every night. I should've started doing that much earlier. It's a bummer to jump in bed at 9PM sometimes, but not feeling tired through the day and easily falling asleep is a great tradeoff.

I’ve incorporated a grounded carbon leatherette under myself when I sleep — a bit skeptical of it at first but I really feel it in the morning — totally relaxed . After going into the biology , we’re full of conductive fascial planes , acting as compartments for different organ areas , kinda cool

Edit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/#!po=0....

Are you joking? This is about as legitimate as the copper balance bracelets that are only good for parting gullible people with their cash. Maybe placebo is making you feel more relaxed, or maybe your mattress is not firm enough and having a leather mat firms it up just enough for your back to feel better.

Well it’s plugged in to the grounding outlet of the wall. I can test the current in my body using a voltmeter drops to approximately zero when grounded

And what does that have to do with your cortisol levels?

See my link to the publication in parent comment

“””The cortisol effects described by Ghaly and Teplitz5 are particularly significant in the light of recent research showing that prolonged chronic stress results in glucocorticoid receptor resistance.”””

Am not a doctor, but that sentence, standing alone, just says your body gets less sensitive to cortisol after a lot of stress.

So again, what could grounding your body possibly have to do with it? And why would you need a mat plugged into your wall outlet to do this?

well i dont need a mat plugged into a grounding outlet, i could be outside barefoot on grass, or swimming in a salt ocean for the same effect. but in winter in finland, those outdoor activities just aren't compatible with my bare skin so i prefer the indoor mat solution.

What does grounding have to do with it? Well my fellow human, we're still figuring this all out, in terms of embryology, we don't know how embyros fast-forward millions of years in evolution in a couple days of development, how the electric markers dictate [1] where eyes form in the foetus etc. furthermore the underlying bioelectric signals that regulate all chemical reactions in our huge soup we call a 'body' runs the best when we are connected (electric potential is close to 0) with the huge battery we call earth, the one we evolved upon connected, and only post WW2, had enough industrial power to put rubber shoes on everyone in modern world (all had leather shoes before which are conductive). yadda yadda i'm just regurgitating what i read in the book i mentioned in another comment. check it out if you think we don't know 100% about health, and western medicine hasn't figured it all out yet, esp at the bioelectric level.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndFe5CaDTlI

And what is it otherwise? 0.002 mA?

Somewhere you recommend I can read more about this?

The Mat came with a book called ‘earthing’ I cringed at first reading it but there’s some cool science in it. Interesting parts on Native American healing traditions. It’s got pretty good reviews


Healthy gut is a rather vague concept. What does that mean in clinical terms, and are there published studies showing that Whole 30 actually produces those results?

It means eating anything that feeds the good bacteria (commensal bacteria) in your gut: probiotics -> short chain fatty acids which is the fuel for these bacteria. That means fermentable fibers - vegetables, fruits, whole oats, mushrooms, barley.

It also means avoiding foods that feed the bad bacteria in your gut, which could lead to overgrowth of the bad and crowding out of the good bacteria. Refined sugar feeds bad bacteria.

In clinical terms, a healthy gut produces mucin, which is the lining or gut barrier, which promotes a healthy immune system (there are more immune cells in your gut than anywhere else in the body) and protects the rest of your body from endotoxin and inflammation.

There are lots of published studies and if you want to learn more, find a video online with Rhonda Patrick. She cites a bunch.

Salt and lime water in the morning can help optimize cortisol profile throughout the day.


googling it it looks like some of that pseudoscience "cleansing" shit

Adaptogen family herbs

ginseng ashwagandha


More garbage tier science reporting portraying a single metric as somehow being an overwhelming determiner of health.

If you want to be healthy it's easy, just do the following: Eat fresh foods. Get aerobic exercise. Get resistance exercise. Get enough sleep. Abstain from drugs and alcohol, or at least partake temperately. Have good genes and a healthy developmental environment. Those last two are on one's parents, not oneself.

"Health" "News" is neither healthy nor news.

Instagram. It is that simple, instagram is straight up cancer, well, actually most social networks but the current major cancer is Instagram.

My GF is glued to her phone. The amount of circle jerking that happens with women and social media is utterly crazy. Bring this up as the article mentions it seems to be higher in women and when I looked around in day to day life I see more women glued to instagram than men (Don't have stats to back it up).

I wouldn't be surprised if they found a link between this and users who use social networks more as well.

Edit: Maybe "circle jerk" wasn't the right phrase to use...

> The amount of circle jerking that happens with women and social media is utterly crazy

Men have been describing women's social interaction in this way, varying only by the names of the popular media and mode of communication of the day, for about as long as we have documentary evidence of how men described anything (and presumably longer, though of course that cannot be documented.)

What's your point?

That men have a distinct gendered nature that makes them wrongly describe women this way?

Or that women have a distinct gendered nature that makes them engage in such social interaction styles - and men have been noticing it for a long time?

I'm also curious what historical comparisons you're talking about... it's not immediately clear what the 500 BC equivalent of IG social media addiction was.

Gossiping around the water well, as we men would probably describe it. In reality I think it's more likely they're assuring better social cohesion by establishing secondary communication for us more emotionally sensitive masculine types.

If that social cohesion advantage transfers well to Instagram is an important question of course. I would not dismiss it out of hand.

Interesting. You agree, then, that women gossip more than men. But you think gossip - which means talking about people behind their backs - is good for social cohesion?

This really sounds like a complete inversion of reality. Straightforward communication is good; manipulating information, denying information, etc are bad. Lots of girls (and some boys) even commit suicide because of gossip campaigns against them - and nowadays it's frequently mediated by social media.

I've been targeted by a female gossip campaign in my youth. The lies flowed freely and harmed me tremendously, always whispered behind my back so I couldn't correct the record. In contrast, when boys had a problem with me they threatened physically instead. Many have experienced this dichotomy.

It's hard to see how one could come to your conclusion from a purely fact-finding mindset. But I'd be interested in any observations that led you to this conclusion. At this point, I think there's a good chance that you feel you're morally compelled to believe this regardless of evidence, as part of a political/moralistic project to change the world according to some grand narrative.

Anyway it's testable. We can just consider: Do groups composed of all men have better or worse social cohesion than comparable groups composed of all women?

I've heard from people who worked in offices of different gender mixes that there is a difference... and it doesn't support your theory. But there must be some better evidence, somewhere.

I said men would describe it as gossip, I didn't say I would agree to that characterisation. Gossip is "idle talk or rumor", which I think is a bad thing. But talking about people behind their backs is not necessarily a bad thing. Indirect communication (which I think is a nicer way to talk about it than 'gossip') allows people to more directly address problems because it circumvents ego. That is why I feel it might contribute to social cohesion, as long as everyone has pure intentions.

The second aspect is of course the question of pure intentions, obviously often competition or spite causes people to gossip in malicious ways, and this might negatively affect social cohesion, or at least exclude individuals.

I don't think the effects are very testable in modern society, as a society consisting of only men or women can not persist for more than one generation.

I think your dichotomy of women using emotional manipulation, and men using physical manipulation to oppress/compete are analogous in their evolutionary role. Some people think that means the role is to exclude the weak, but I think that's just an unfortunate side effect, and the role is more to ensure the strong exist at all. Unfortunately often nature cruelly ignores that sort of collateral damage.

There is a part in sapiens about the utility of gossip for the evolution of mankind if I am not mistaken.

I believe in the end it stated the result / ability to do so was good for social interaction. (Arguably not for those outside the group?).

Anyway, I can not recall exactly so I am going to refrain from adding more to it.

I see more women glued to instagram than men

There is certainly some evidence that women and men use social media differently; Pinterest is 81% women for example, and only 7% of posts are by men. Instagram is 68% women. I don't know of any social media that is male-dominated in the same extent. LinkedIn is 56% men, Twitter 57%.

Pinterest should not be considered social. Most users have collections they use for themselves, but in my experience actual social interaction is incredibly rare. I think it’s better to view as having an excellent sharing platform that not all users take advantage of.

In my experience most men are just unaware or uninterested in fashion, design, cooking, and all the things that Pinterest excels at. Personally I love it.... but again, would not consider it a social media platform in the least. Even when I build boards with people, we discuss on a separate place (phone, chat, etc)

i wonder what the HN demographic looks like?

it's probably hard to measure since one does not provide gender in a profile here, but it'd still be interesting to see. I for one have a heavy HN addiction, similar to what others describe their IG addiction to be like

It is addictive. But atleast they have the maxvisit, minaway, delay settings available to provide some minimal way to reduce the pull.

Social networks need to have such tooling, that should automatically nudge people to take it easy when heavy usage is detected.

> I don't know of any social media that is male-dominated in the same extent.

Reddit, most likely HN too.

Reddit, most likely HN too.

That would be stretching my personal definition of social media, but yes Reddit does publish figures showing it's pretty much exactly as skewed towards men as Instagram is towards women, very interesting. I wonder about Strava, there seems to be no data available on that, maybe because it isn't ad-supported.

The reason I'm not so sure as neither Reddit nor HN are oriented around the personal profile in the same way as the others are. HN could (probably should) go completely "anonymous coward" and it would be no less useful.

How does Reddit know?

They use the marketing companies that use 3rd party cookies to track you on every site you visit.

So it's "you self-reported you were [fe]male on some other site; you didn't block scripts; ergo you're [fe]male".

Actually this https://www.techjunkie.com/demographics-reddit/ lists a few sources. The primary one appears to be Pew Research, the methodology is interesting http://www.journalism.org/2016/02/25/reddit-methodology/.

They random dialled, then surveyed 6000 people, ~4500 agreed to be surveyed further (with cash incentive), of those ~300 are Reddit users and the stats are taken from there. You can choose to do the survey by web or regular mail .. respondents who agree to be surveyed by mail actually take the survey at a level of 20%; if I read correctly they assume none of those sent the mail survey are net users.

The point of the survey was analysing political activity.

It seems likely to give only broad indications at best. Unfortunately this result from < 300 USAmericans seems to be repeated as "this is the global demographic of Reddit" in a few places.

Historically, surveys on HN actually put membership here as high as 98% male.

There was evidence that was an exaggeration and it has likely improved, though I haven't seen a survey recently. But, yes, HN is very male dominated.

Link? Any that have made an attempt to corroborate the findings?

Not a survey per se, but the only thing I can readily find:


I privately kept data for a time. Some of that data was lost at some point. I very carefully published some of my data on a previous blog that I recently took offline.

This is from memory. This handle is less than a year old, but I've been here over 9 years. Back in the day, members sometimes posted surveys casually. I saw several of them over time.



That 'edit' survey of n=3 -- under some notion of average, the average HNer is a non-binary transgender 30yo.

It was posted because it has a link to an actual poll so you can see what one looks like if you want to try to search the site yourself. I've searched. I did so when I answered the question. I've done so on other occasions. I can't find the polls I remember seeing. I don't know what I am doing wrong.

It also has a blurb by me from several years ago:

According to previous polls, most people here are male and in their 20's or 30's.

So that's fresher testimony that corresponds to my current recollection.

That's the best I can do. I wish I could find the data I remember seeing. I can't. I've repeatedly tried, to no avail.

Perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut henceforth rather than commenting that "I've been here 9+ years. There have been polls in the past. This is what I remember."

Because it consistently feels like it gets me nothing but push back rather than being some kind of meaningful, useful contribution to the conversation indicating that someone who has paid an excess of attention to such data over the years to try to sort their own relationship to the site has concluded that, yea, verily, your impression that there sure are a lot of men here seems accurate to me.

HN is a tiny fraction of the social media landscape.


Here is one way WhatsApp efffects mothers - https://scroll.in/magazine/834036/indian-schools-are-using-w...

When the thinking is do whatever it takes to scale, the unintended effects are too numerous for people to comprehend.

Women seem uniquely vulnerable to this thing somehow. With only a few exceptions, all of the women under 45 that I know basically can't tear themselves away from IG. This is true across IQ and socioeconomic bands in my own anecdotal experience.

Care to consider there may be some selection bias here?

It's certainly a possibility. Have you noticed a different pattern?

All the women and men in my life manage to quarantine their phone use to their personal time.

I have a tough time imagining you spending time with a friend where they just ignore you to spend time on IG. If they do, that’s likely a reflection of you.

> that’s likely a reflection of you

Be wary of taking this statement too seriously.

0) It wouldn’t be a direct reflection of you in any case; It might directly reflect what someone thinks of you. But just because a person thinks you are boring (or creepy or lazy or crazy) does not in fact mean you are. Its just a data point.

1) Spinning in your head about whether someone thinks you are a boring person isn’t going to help you or them. Talk to a friend and ask them for direct feedback.

2) Sometimes people do have a habit of getting on their phones and then later regretting not be being present and social. I know I do and I need to make deliberate effort to avoid it (Freedom.app is useful here)

3) Sometimes people are tired.

Sure, when people are actively spending time with me they're usually not on their phone. But you have no awareness of how people you know spend the rest of their time? I'm around my friends during lots of times where we're not actively spending time together.

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