Lear from Dr John Arden

This course includes a video by Dr. John Arden as part of a larger webinar. To gain CEU points please follow the link below.

CEU Points

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About This Course

This lesson explains how the multidimensional stress systems have been reconceptualized.  While opting for the terms Allostasis and Allostatic Load we can more fully appreciate how resiliency and adaptability (Allostasis) can be developed, while the breakdown and dysfunction (Allostatic Load) can be minimized.  

Allostatic load involves the breakdown of regulatory feedback systems between health conditions and mental health contributing to the development of anxiety and depression. The dysregulation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems can throw the immune system out of balance contributing to affective and cognitive deficits.  

Meanwhile dysregulation in the neuroendocrine system can further undermine the stabilizing feedback systems resulting inhypercortisolism with increases in inflammation, contributing to cardiovascular system damage as well as more systemic deficits to the central nervous system. 

The formation of the anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, phobias, and panic hijacks the stress reaction systems so they get turned on inappropriately.  A consistent pattern of false alarms transforms to an “auto stress disorder” which we refer to as an anxiety disorder. Stress becomes anxiety when the stress system is turned on too often and signals danger when there is none.  Often people who experience multiple stressors then become hyper-vigilant and avoidant of the symptoms of stress. From this perspective an anxiety disorder feeds on the stress response system. Like autoimmune disorders that hijack the immune system so that it turns back on the body instead of protecting it, auto stress disorders transform the stress response system into something that attacks the self, rather than protecting it.  

This lesson also describes how therapy can temper the hyperactivity of the fast track to the amygdala, which underlies over-responses to events with unrealistic and immediate threat.  Clients can be taught to put the brakes on the fast track to the amygdala by activating functions in the prefrontal cortex, which increases “slow vs. the fast track.” Therapy promotes activation of the left PFC with the engagement in approach behaviors and exposure to alleviate anxiety, depression, and promote allostasis.  

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction

  • 2

    Autostress Disorders

    • Autostress Disorders Webinar

  • 3

    Next Steps...

    • Before you go...


Senior Instructor

John Arden

John Arden, Ph.D., is the author of 14 books including Mind-Brain-Gene (2019, W.W.Norton & Company). He has a background in neuropsychology and is the director of training for mental health for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in Northern California. In this capacity, he oversees one of the largest mental health training programs in the world, operating in 22 different medical centers throughout Northern California. Dr. Arden also practices part-time at Kaiser Permanente in Petaluma and San Rafael, and he served for several years as the chief psychologist at Kaiser Vallejo. He has taught in colleges, professional schools and universities.


Toward Psychotherapy Integration

If you would like more resources on this topic, please consider reading Dr. John Arden's book Mind-Brain-Gene. This book contributes to the sea change in how we conceptualise mental health problems and their solutions. Mind-Brain-Gene describes the feedback loops between the multiple systems contributing to the emergence of the mind and the experience of the self. It explains how our mental operating networks "self"-organise, drawing from and modifying our memory systems to establish and maintain mental health.