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Four effects chronic stress has on brain function

by , 21 September 2017
Four effects chronic stress has on brain function
Chronic stress is the type of stress that most of us face every day. Research reveals that up to 90^ of doctor visits are for stress-related complaints.

Chronic stress makes your body more vulnerable to everything from the common cold to cancer. That's not all - the non-stop elevation of the stress hormone, cortisol, also negatively impacts your brain function in the following ways…

Four ways in which chronic stress affects brain function

#1: Chronic stress creates free radicals
Cortisol creates excess of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. This neurotransmitter creates free radicals that attack your brain cells the same way that oxygen attacks metal and causes it to rust. Free radicals punch holes in the walls of your brain cells, causing the cells to rupture and die. Other factors that contribute to your free radical load include drinking too much alcohol, eating junk food and smoking cigarettes.
#2: Chronic stress makes forgetful and emotional
Forgetfulness is the first noticeable signs of chronic stress. You may misplace your keys or forget appointments, which, of course, only adds to your stress and can make you emotional. According to studies, when you’re stressed, electrical signals in your brain tied to factual memories weaken, while areas in your brain associated with emotions strengthen.


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#3: Chronic stress leads to feelings of anxiety
Stress builds up in your brain’s fear centre called the amygdala. Stress increases the size, activity level and number of neutral connections in this area of your brain. This brings about feelings of fear and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle of even more stress.
#4: Chronic stress stops the production of new bran cells
It’s true that you lose brain cells every day, but you create new brain cells every day, too. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the protein that can be thought of a fertiliser for your brain – it keeps existing brain cells healthy and stimulates the production of new brain cells.
While BDNF can offset the harmful effects of chronic stress on your brain, cortisol halts the production of this protein, resulting in fewer new brain cells being formed. Lowered levels of BDNF are tied to a number of brain-related conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, OCD, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
PS: Go here to learn about the seven most common causes of stress today.

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