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The Negative Impact of Stress on the Brain

It’s no secret that stress can have a negative impact on our bodies and our overall health and wellbeing. But did you know that long-term stress can actually take a lasting toll on our brains? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how chronic stress can impact the brain and what we can do to mitigate the damage (including the importance of stress therapy in one form or another).

Chronic stress has been linked to a number of issues in the brain, including anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, memory problems, and reduced cognitive function. When we experience chronic stress, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode and releases cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol wreaks havoc on the body over time and can lead to serious health problems if left unchecked.

In the brain, cortisol increases glutamate levels, which can lead to excitotoxicity. For those who have never heard of this term, excitotoxicity is a situation where neurons are overexcited and begin to die off – this can result in cognitive decline and dementia. In addition, cortisol impairs hippocampal function, which is responsible for learning and memory formation. Long-term stress can also shrink the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision making and executive function.

What can be done to manage stress levels?

There are a number of things you can do to manage your stress levels and protect your brain from the negative effects of stress.

  • For one, exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels and improve brain function
  • Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to be effective in reducing stress
  • And last but not least, make sure to get plenty of restful sleep; sleep deprivation only amplifies the effects of stress on the body and mind

While some amount of stress is inevitable, it’s important to recognise when it’s becoming chronic and then take steps to reduce it. Chronic stress not only affects our mood and mental health, but it can also impact the way we learn and remember information. If you find yourself feeling constantly stressed, it’s definitely worth speaking to your doctor or a counsellor who can help you manage your stress in a healthy way.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.

Would you benefit from stress therapy?

As you can see, chronic stress takes a toll on our brains in a number of ways. If left unchecked, it can lead to cognitive decline, memory problems, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Stefania Booker
the authorStefania Booker