Today in class we discussed the optimal regulation of threat detection – the smoke detector principle – a concept introduced by Randy Nesse MD to explain apparent maladaptive behavioral responses, such as panic disorder.
We also discussed evidence for a linkage between pathogen defense and depression/anxiety, the PATHOS D hypothesis, which will be the subject of a future entry on this blog.
Tying the two ideas together, we speculated that exposure to childhood infectious disease might play a role in shaping the risk for depression and anxiety in adulthood. We speculated that if the PATHOS-D model is correct, we should see a relationship between a history of breastfeeding, which is well known to modulate the risk of infant diarrhea and infectious mortality in childhood, and the incidence of later depression/anxiety.
It turns out that such a relationship has been published:
This article is entitled “Breast feeding and resilience against psychosocial stress” by Montgomery and Ehlin.