Clinical Center News
October/November 2017

A nation under pressure: former U.S. Surgeon General speaks about stress in America

Four members of the Public Health Service stand with Dr. Vivek Murthy
Members of the U.S. Public Health Service, who served under the command of Dr. Vivek Murthy during his tenure as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General, attended the lecture. From left to right, CDR Julie Erb-Alvarez (NHLBI), CAPT Josef Rivero (NHLBI), RADM Peter Kilmarx (FIC), Dr. Vivek Murthy and RADM Susan Orsega (NIAID). Photo Credit: Andrew Propp

Dr. Francis S. Collins and Dr. Vivek Murthy sit in Masur Auditorium.
NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins (left) speaks with lecture guest Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy (right) about stress levels among Americans.

Americans are over-stressed and that has serious implications for our health. That was the message former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy brought to Masur Auditorium in the NIH Clinical Center Sept. 7. Speaking at the Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture hosted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Murthy outlined his concern that stress among Americans is at dangerous levels.

Murthy drew a distinction from short-term stress, like before a test or a public performance, which can deliver positive results and even assist with healing. His concern centered on long-term, chronic stress which can be linked to workplaces that are increasingly fast paced, to constantly being connected to media through smartphones and, "The idea that you would go to work at nine and leave at five and then spend time with your family has been replaced by [the idea] that you're accessible through email and technology 24/7," stated Murthy.

He suggested that exercise, sleep, social connection through in-person interactions with others and meditation are effective counters to chronic stress. View the full conversation between NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins and Murthy on videocast.