Can Emotional Stress Shrink Your Brain?

Emotional Stress Shrink Your Brain

Stress, as we can define it, is “The brain’s reaction to commands.”

When the human body undergoes physical, mental, or emotional change, the body’s instinct is to withstand stress. Stress is not a product of harm but can also be due to a positive difference. It could be moving to a different- place or getting a new job. Everything has a good influence on our body until it exceeds the limit.

Stress allows the human body to grow and adapt to changing circumstances, but when it prolongs over some time, it can result in the shrinkage of the brain. It reduces the normal functioning of the brain; a person may experience memory loss, dementia, forgetfulness, and difficulty in learning, ultimately reducing a person’s ability to perform. Stress has a severe impact on all three parts of the brain.

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According to studies conducted at Harvard University, during life-threatening situations, one part of the brain becomes more active in coping up with the threat. This single part of the brain uses more energy than the rest. Stress is comparable to exercise; if given adequate dosage, it will do nothing but benefit us.

During stress, the brain enters into survival mode rather than memory mode and uses all its energy to survive. The other parts are left with less energy to perform their tasks. Hence, prolonged periods of stress can make the brain slower, a state of fatigue.

All of this takes place during chronic stress, which occurs when the duration of stress exceeds the body’s coping ability. It doesn’t only impact physical health but also kills off neurons (Cells responsible for communication within the body), thereby changing the chemical structure of the brain.

The brain is the most complicated part, responsible for its normal functioning. However, it is not a single unit but is a complex system made up of different elements that work together. It consists of coping mechanisms to deal with stress in times of emergencies.

One such mechanism is the release of a hormone called Cortisol. The hypothalamus, the tiny almond size part of the brain, releases Cortisol during emergencies, to give us the energy to deal with the inconvenience.

When stress becomes a part of your daily routine, there is an increase in the quantity of Cortisol to a dangerous level. The brain produces more Cortisol than it can use; as a result of that, the brain is negatively affected. A high level of Cortisol kills off brain cells, thus resulting in reduced brain functioning and reduced size.

If you are a victim of Chronic stress, do not worry for your size can be back to normal, the impact of stress is reversible. The normal functioning of the brain is possible by taking proper measures, such as getting a good night’s sleep, which would allow the brain time to rest and recover. Another way to avoid stress can be to stay organized. Getting things done in a sequence would reduce the chances of it becoming overwhelming. Exercising could also help in improving mood.

Stress, however, is unavoidable. It is a part of life, but with the right approach, one can overcome any obstacle. Optimism is the key. Tell us in the comments section below if you have had experienced any stress and what is your coping mechanism. Do not let stress feast on your brain.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!


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