Stress and Your Body

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A genius breaking down a somewhat difficult topic Dr. Sapolsky is clearly a genius and probably a titan in his field(s). I think he did a great job taking a somewhat difficult subject and relaying it to the audience. He has an innate sense of when the material is getting too thick and slipping in a self-deprecating line of humor. I, unlike some of the other reviewers, think he has a very intelligent and witty sense of humor. As smart as he is, I'm sure it would be easy to get on the high horse and talk down to the crowd. I feel like he does not do this. He does his best to put that aside and disseminates things nicely.
Date published: 2021-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this professor! Robert Sapolsky is my FAVORITE professor on the Great Courses. He is very knowledgeable and engaging (also hilarious). I am almost done watching all the courses he has on this site and i wish there were more.
Date published: 2020-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Course:Well Taught I' m glad I took this course. The course is filled with interesting information that is pertinent to everyone. Dr. Sapolsky is engaging, humorous, and I would recommend his courses to others.
Date published: 2020-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Robert Sapolsky is always captivating This is the third course I have taken with Robert Sapolsky. He is a great instructor and always stimulating. His language level is non-academic and frequently enjoyable. I'm in agreement with his remark in lecture 9 (or8) - there should be a Great Course on hyenas!
Date published: 2020-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from VERY INFORMATIVE Lots of practical and entertaining information. Great presenter.
Date published: 2019-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Lecturer I enjoyed this series of lectures so much that I actually went to the library and checked out some books by this professor.
Date published: 2019-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant I admit, I am a Sapolsky fan. I have all his books and have read them several times, and constantly pick up extra copies to gift to friends and family. When I found out The Great Courses had lectures by him I jumped at the opportunity to obtain the video DVDs. There's nothing like seeing your favorite author deliver the goods.I had previously picked up used copies of Being Human and Biology and Human Behavior. This was the first lecture I purchased directly from here, and the download feature makes buying them direct from the source worth it. Anyhoo, back to this series. This is soooo much more than just a health and lifestyle chat. The science of stress on the whole body is brilliantly explained, and his humor is conveyed throughout. The asides, similar to the footnotes in the books, are there - full of answers to the weird questions we have in our heads when you hear lecture and aren't quite sure how the experimenter knows a lab rat is laughing or frustrated. The video is well worth it even though there are few visuals. He stands at the podium, or paces back and forth, but you notice his delivery is always to you. No scanning a teleprompter or fumbling for thought, eye contact and expressions always calmly conveying the importance of key concepts. One of my favorite delivery techniques is when he gives you a concept, and rather than move on to the next, he pauses, and follows it with a "what's up with that?" where he digs in to the implications.
Date published: 2019-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing courses This instructor is excellent. He presents in a concise and interesting approach that is so easy to listen to.
Date published: 2019-04-23
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Stress and Your Body
Course Trailer
Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers? Why Do We?
1: Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers? Why Do We?

In Professor Sapolsky's introductory lecture, get a behind-the-scenes look at the science of stress and preview the groundwork for the course ahead. What exactly happens to our bodies when we come under stress? And how is our response to stress different from that of a zebra being hunted al ong a savannah?

31 min
The Nuts and Bolts of the Stress-Response
2: The Nuts and Bolts of the Stress-Response

Every time you have a thought or emotion, things change in your body. Here, explore the two factors responsible for these changes: the nervous system and hormones. Learn how these systems work, how they're regulated, and-most important-what happens to them during moments of stress.

31 min
Stress and Your Heart
3: Stress and Your Heart

Armed with the necessary background information, explore how specific organ systems suffer when faced with chronic stress. In the first of a series of lectures on this subject, learn how long-term stress can damage heart muscles, inflame and clog blood vessels, and even lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

31 min
Stress, Metabolism, and Liquidating Your Assets
4: Stress, Metabolism, and Liquidating Your Assets

The next organ system you focus on: the metabolic system. Discover how cycles of chronic stress lead to a persistent activating and storing of energy, which in turn can lead to an inefficient use of energy and play a critical role in the prevalence of adult-onset diabetes.

31 min
Stress, Overeating, and Your Digestive Tract
5: Stress, Overeating, and Your Digestive Tract

Focus now on the role stress plays in our gastrointestinal tracts. Why do most of us eat more during stressful periods? How does stress affect bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colons? And how does stress combine with a bacterial infection to produce a common stress-related disease: ulcers?

31 min
Stress and Growth-Echoes from the Womb
6: Stress and Growth-Echoes from the Womb

The first of two lectures on stress and child development takes you inside prenatal and postnatal life. Using two extraordinary examples, Professor Sapolsky reveals the ways a fetus can respond to the environmental stressors of its mother, and how different parenting styles can affect the stress levels of young children.

31 min
Stress, Growth, and Child Development
7: Stress, Growth, and Child Development

Investigate how chronic stress can disrupt the growth of young children by focusing on stress dwarfism and the connection between stress and low growth hormone levels. Also, learn how mid-20th-century experiments with monkeys proved how important love-and not just nutrients-is in raising less-stressful children.

31 min
Stress and Female Reproduction
8: Stress and Female Reproduction

Get an insightful overview of the multifaceted effects of stress on the female reproductive system. Some of the topics you explore are the intricate relationships between stress and fertilization, ovulation, spontaneous miscarriages, high-tech in vitro fertilization, and the strength of the libido.

30 min
Stress and Male Reproduction
9: Stress and Male Reproduction

Despite being simpler than its female counterpart, the male reproductive system is just as vulnerable to chronic stress. Here, discover how stress leads not to a major decrease in testosterone so much as an increase in erectile dysfunction (with a focus on two of the most common symptoms: impotency and premature ejaculation).

32 min
Stress and Your Immune System
10: Stress and Your Immune System

Turn now to the relationship between stress and your immune system. After mastering the basics of how this system works, delve into how frequent stressors can result in flare-ups of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, can increase your vulnerability to infections like the common cold and herpes viruses, and more.

31 min
Stress and Cancer
11: Stress and Cancer

Can an increase in stress actually cause cancer? Can it cause a relapse among patients in remission, or speed up the rate of a cancer's progression? Professor Sapolsky offers his insights on these and other controversial questions and myths about the possible links between stress and cancer....

31 min
Stress and Pain
12: Stress and Pain

Stress and pain have an intriguing relationship: Stress can increase your sensitivity and resistance to pain, while pain constitutes its own particular stressor. Explore this fascinating bidirectional relationship, and expand your knowledge of how both balanced and stressed minds and bodies react to all varieties of pain.

29 min
Stress, Learning, and Memory
13: Stress, Learning, and Memory

Memory-whether implicit or explicit-is an essential part of everyday life. So it's all the more important to understand how it's affected by stress. This lecture explains the science behind how short-term stress enhances memory and learning, while chronic stress may actually work to kill neurons in the hippocampus.

29 min
Stress, Judgment, and Impulse Control
14: Stress, Judgment, and Impulse Control

In addition to affecting the hippocampus, stress can prove harmful to the frontal cortex as well-the seat of behavioral regulation. As in previous lectures, discover what happens to this essential part of the brain when it comes under attack from chronic stress.

31 min
Stress, Sleep, and Lack of Sleep
15: Stress, Sleep, and Lack of Sleep

Most of us don't get as much sleep as we should. Yet the amount of sleep we get is highly intertwined with how our bodies deal with stress. Investigate why high levels of stress disrupt not only how long we sleep-but the quality of sleep's vital restorative powers as well.

31 min
Stress and Aging
16: Stress and Aging

As you age, your ability to deal with stress decreases. What's more: Lots of stress throughout your lifetime can accelerate aspects of aging. Here, examine a series of intriguing experiments and studies that explain the science behind these two views about the intersection between stress and aging.

31 min
Understanding Psychological Stress
17: Understanding Psychological Stress

Why are some stressors more unbearable than others? This lecture introduces you to three powerful psychological factors that work to modulate the stress response: having an outlet, taking advantage of social support, and having predictive information about when and how long a stressor will occur.

30 min
Psychological Modulators of Stress
18: Psychological Modulators of Stress

Conclude your look at ways to modulate the stress response by looking at two subtler variables: your control over the stressor, and your interpretation of whether the stress is getting better or worse. You also see why, despite being enormously powerful, these variables can work only within certain parameters.

30 min
Stress and the Biology of Depression
19: Stress and the Biology of Depression

Turn to the realm of mental health with this close look at the ties between stress and major depression-one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Start with an overview of the disorder's symptoms before delving into the particulars of its neurochemistry and neuroanatomy.

31 min
Stress and the Psychology of Depression
20: Stress and the Psychology of Depression

To truly understand clinical depression, you need to grasp its psychological aspects as well. In the second lecture on stress and this prevalent disease, explore the pivotal role stress hormones play in depression. Then, use your newfound knowledge of stress to knit together the psychological and biological models of depression.

30 min
Anxiety, Hostility, Repression, and Reward
21: Anxiety, Hostility, Repression, and Reward

Anxiety disorders, feelings of intense hostility, a decreased capacity for pleasure, and a repressed or addictive persona are just a few of the many distinct effects that chronic stress can have on an individual's personality and behavior. The ways these psychological disorders emerge are the subject of this fascinating lecture.

31 min
Stress, Health, and Low Social Status
22: Stress, Health, and Low Social Status

How strong a role does socioeconomic status play in what stressors you're exposed to, as well as your potential for chronic stress? It's a provocative question whose answer Professor Sapolsky reveals in this penetrating look at the characteristics and effects of psychosocial stress on both primates and humans.

30 min
Stress Management-Clues to Success?
23: Stress Management-Clues to Success?

Before learning tips to manage chronic stress, it's essential to understand why certain individuals cope better with stress-both physically and mentally-than others. Discover that the key lies in grasping predictors of successful aging, including a position of respect, a resilient personality, a healthy lifestyle, and a realistic approach to life's challenges.

30 min
Stress Management-Approaches and Cautions
24: Stress Management-Approaches and Cautions

Exercise. Meditation. Social support. Religious beliefs. In this concluding lecture, learn how these and other outlets can potentially help you manage life's everyday stressors-both biologically and psychologically. Regardless of how many stressors you deal with daily, all of us, according to Professor Sapolsky, have the potential to keep them in perspective.

32 min
Robert Sapolsky

We humans activate the stress-response for reasons of psychological factors, and that's simply not what the system evolved for. If you do that chronically, you're going to get sick.


Rockefeller University


Stanford University

About Robert Sapolsky

Dr. Robert Sapolsky is John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Stanford's School of Medicine. Professor Sapolsky earned his A.B. summa cum laude in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology from The Rockefeller University in New York. He is also a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research operated by the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Dr. Sapolsky is a recipient of a MacArthur genius fellowship. His teaching awards include Stanford University's Bing Award for Teaching Excellence and an award for outstanding teaching from the Associated Students of Stanford University. Professor Sapolsky is the author of several books, including Stress, the Aging Brain and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death (MIT Press, 1992); The Trouble with Testosterone (Macmillan Library Reference, 1997); and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress-Related Diseases and Coping (W.H. Freeman, 1995), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He also regularly contributes to magazines and journals such as Discover, Science, Scientific American, Harper's, and The New Yorker.

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