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How Stress Affects Your Brain

Your Brain on Chronic Stress: 5 Serious Consequences!

What are the effects of stress on your brain? Because most people are used to the acute stress response, many people are unaware of the serious repercussions of long-term stress. This acute response might be triggered by anything as simple as rushing to catch the train for your daily commute or concluding a work activity in the last hour of the day.

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a very another beast. If you’ve ever seen someone change as a result of a lot of stress, you’ve seen the negative impacts that stress can have on the brain.

Chronic stress affects almost every element of the body, both inside and out, with the brain being one of the most sensitive organs.

The following are some of the inside-the-brain manifestations of chronic stress; these are serious consequences, therefore getting your stress under control today is more important than ever!

Stress Impairs Memory

The brain is a remarkably versatile and diversified organ, capable of altering and expanding in response to inputs. Cortisol lowers the hippocampus, which is important for memory and recall in this circumstance.

Instead, it causes the amygdala, another brain region closely related to our emotional reactions, to enlarge. The brain is primed to respond to fight or flight stimuli as a consequence of the increase in area size, and to make decisions based on emotions rather than working memory and thinking. This isn’t the best scenario.

Stress Increases Oxidative Damage in The Brain

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that is enhanced when cortisol is present.

However, when glutamate levels rise, so does the production of reactive oxygen species, a potentially harmful chemical that causes cell damage.

These oxygen species damage and kill brain cells and have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Stress Inhibits Growth Of New Brain Cells

If new cells had formed in reaction to oxidative damage, things would not have been so awful, but stress has a way of shutting down the repair process as well. Cortisol inhibits a protein known as (BDNF), which enhances the development of new brain cells. These speeds up the aging and degeneration of the brain, which might explain why some people have much more cognitive issues when they are under a lot of stress.

Stress Negatively Affects Levels Of Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters have a variety of roles in the brain, but the most well-known are those that control mood, motivation, concentration, and sleep patterns. Two of them, serotonin and dopamine, are depleted by cortisol, leaving you drowsy and unable to enjoy pleasure in ordinary life. Depression and suicidal ideation are common side effects, as are panic attacks and uncontrollable binge eating.

Stress Affects the Brain’s Defense

The brain has a natural “barrier,” fittingly named the blood-brain barrier, that prevents problematic materials from entering under normal conditions. Toxins and the bulk of disease-causing organisms fall within this category.

This barrier becomes significantly more permissive under the effect of cortisol, enabling more and more unfavorable substances to penetrate the brain. This is really poor development, and it’s only useful when you need drugs to go over a barrier you wouldn’t be able to get over otherwise.

Stress Reduces the Plasticity Of The Brain

As previously said, the brain develops and changes with time, but plasticity also refers to the brain’s ability to restructure itself. When someone acquires a new highly technical skill, for example, their neurons become more tightly connected for that activity, and this network becomes stronger over time. This explains why practice makes perfect and why stress makes performing, remembering, or learning more difficult.

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