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The Effects Of Stress On The Brain

Stress can make us feel angry, resentful, overwhelmed, and can even make us sick. We often tend to become stressed when our boss is breathing down our neck, or when we have to wait thirty minutes in line at the grocery store.

When we become stressed our bodies release cortisol. If you are constantly feeling stress then your body is constantly releasing the cortisol. Over time this can lead to several physical health problems. It can also lead to several mental health problems. Too much stress can literally make you very sick. Here are four ways that stress changes your brain…

  • Stress triggers a chemical change that makes you irritable…

Like mentioned above, when you become stressed your body will release a chemical called cortisol. When this chemical is released you become irritable, cranky, and in a bad mood. Your brain begins to think more negatively. You reactions are not what they would be if you were not stressed out. Most often, when we do things that we later regret we do them when we are stressed out.

  • Chronic stress can shrink your brain…

When you are stressed out day after day, month after month, and year after year your brain will actually begin to shrink.The medial prefrontal cortex of the brain loses volume. This is the part of the brain that is associative with emotion and cognitive skills. Stress causes impairment to this part of the brain. It no longer works properly and the result is that it shrinks. This can lead to permanent damage.

  • One stressful event can kill brain cells…

Stress can actually kill your brain cells. All it takes is just one stressful event. In “Social Intelligence”, Daniel Gorman wrote “The hippocampus is exceptional vulnerable to ongoing emotional distress because of the damaging effects of cortisol. The University of California at Berkeley researches found that when the brain is in a state of chronic stress it generates more myelin producing cells and fewer neurons that a typical non-stressed brain does. A study conducted in 2008 on mice showed that even short term stress could lead to communication problems among brain cells in regions associated with memory and learning.

  • Stress can disrupt the memory by triggering the brains threat response…

When we become stressed out and our bodies release the stress chemicals it alters the way we think. Our brains naturally take defense. We lose memory ability and think for the moment only. We tend not to think about the consequences of our actions when stressed. When cortisol is released it increased the activity and size of the amygdala. The fight or flight response kicks in. This can restrict our ability to take in new information. We use our survival instincts. Our emotional senses become heightened and our ability to use logic and reason is diminished. Goleman wrote “After a day when a student gets panicked by a pop quiz, he’ll remember the details of that panic far more than any of the material in the quiz.”

Source: Huffington Post

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