Stress Response Modulation Underlying the Psychobiology of Resilience


Purpose of Review

This review focuses on the relationship between resilience and the ability to effectively modulate the stress response. Neurobiological and behavioral responses to stress are highly variable. Exposure to a similar stressor can lead to heterogeneous outcomes—manifesting psychopathology in one individual, but having minimal effect, or even enhancing resilience, in another. We highlight aspects of stress response modulation related to early life development and epigenetics, selected neurobiological and neurochemical systems, and a number of emotional, cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioral factors important in resilience. We also briefly discuss interventions with potential to build and promote resilience.

Recent Findings

Throughout this review, we include evidence from recent preclinical and clinical studies relevant to the psychobiology of resilient stress response modulation.


Effective modulation of the stress response is an essential component of resilience and is dependent on a complex interplay of neurobiological and behavioral factors.

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Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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The authors acknowledge the support from the US Department of Veterans Affairs through its support for the National Center for PTSD. We also recognize the National Center for Advancing Translational Science for its support of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (UL1RR024139). In addition, the authors acknowledge the support from the US Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 1 Research Office (Career Development Award, LAA), Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (LAA, CGA, BK), and the Robert E. Leet and Clara Guthrie Patterson Mentored Clinical Research Trust (LAA).

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Correspondence to Lynnette A. Averill.

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Lynnette A. Averill, Christopher L. Averill, Benjamin Kelmendi, and Steven M. Southwick declare no conflict of interest.

Chadi G. Abdallah has received personal fees from Janssen and Genentech, both outside the submitted work.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Disaster Psychiatry: Trauma, PTSD, and Related Disorders

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Averill, L.A., Averill, C.L., Kelmendi, B. et al. Stress Response Modulation Underlying the Psychobiology of Resilience. Curr Psychiatry Rep 20, 27 (2018).

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  • Resilience
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Neurobiology
  • Intervention