Good Results from Bad Habits?

goodresultsbadhabits-flashIf you’re reading this in the midst of a stressful day at the office, here’s some good news: When you go home to do what I know you’ll probably do — drink, smoke, use drugs and binge eat — you are actually triggering a biological response in your body that helps prevent depression. Hello Oreos and Ativan.

According to an article published in a recent 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, University of Michigan social scientist James S. Jackson and colleagues argue that

“People engage in bad habits for functional reasons, not because of weak character or ignorance,” says Jackson, director of the U-M Institute for Social Research.

But before you grab the K2 and cake, there’s a downside, and, like with so many downsides, there’s a race and class implication: Jackson and his colleagues use this argument to explain health differences in African American and white populations.

“Over the life course, coping strategies that are effective in ‘preserving’ the mental health of blacks may work in concert with social, economic and environmental inequalities to produce physical health disparities in middle age and later life.”