The following information will help you gain a better understanding for how stress affects your brain & ways to improve how you deal with stress in the future.
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 five ways that stress changes your brain.
Destroying Brain Cells
Stress releases the hormone glucocorticoid in the brain which gradually weakens the brain cells, and eventually kills them. Adrenaline is released during stress, which makes us agitated and confused. When this adrenaline is not expended, it can result in excess production of glucocorticoids. In a recent study conducted on lab rats, the following results were revealed. While testing the animals, a high level of GC caused the animal’s brain cells to die. The likelihood of similar results to show up in humans, is high;y probable if the stress is allowed to persist over a prolonged period of time.
Clamping of Nerves
Stress can drastically reduce the circulation of blood in the brain, thereby increasing the chances of suffering a stroke. The nerves and veins begin to shrink or clamp together, obstructing the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrition to the brain, delaying the brain’s ability to heal itself faster.
Shrinking The 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.
Increases the Risk of Heart Attacks
Since insufficient blood is being circulated to the brain while suffering from stress, less blood reaches the heart for re-pumping. This can seriously jeopardize the balance of the heart, depriving it of oxygen and blood. Since the brain consumes 20% of the total oxygen needed by the body, if the brain is left hungry for oxygen, the rest of the body too will starve! This will in turn cause palpitations, and suffocation in the lungs, making it difficult for us to breathe. Many people who endure stress suffer from palpitations and many other diseases caused by stress. Some suffer on a regular basis, which causes them to even faint after getting angry or upset.
Hypertension Increased adrenalin in stressful times leads to heightened blood pressure. And when this happens on a regular basis, the pressure stays permanently elevated. Elevated blood pressure causes strokes and organ failure.