While some stress is a normal part of life, chronic or ongoing stress can lead to serious issues. Thus, stress is not an illness, but ongoing and unmanaged stress can lead to a host of negative outcomes. Imagine what one stressful thought after another feels like in your body. If you take the time to pause and notice, you will notice that you feel tired and drained. However, very few people realize you are also destroying your health and brain with chronic stress. Many people remain unaware of the damaging impact of stress on the mind, body and overall wellbeing. (Also read: Here’s how meditation can do wonders in relieving stress )
Psychologist, Dr. Ketam Hamdan, suggested important facts about stress that you may not know in her recent Instagram post.
1. Stress shrinks your brain
Chronic stress results in higher cortisol levels. Studies found high cortisol lower brain volumes and reduced gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, (the part of the brain that helps with self-control, attention, etc. And shrinks gray matter in the occipital lobe, which is the visual processing center. Gray matter is important as it helps process information in your brain.
2. Stress can change how you process information
Normally, an alert person’s brain has moderate amounts of chemical messengers that lead the prefrontal cortex to take charge and perform high-level thinking. Weaker control of thoughts, emotions and actions. But with stress, those chemical signals can flood the brain. So instead of information processing and flowing, the threat system of the brain is activated.
3. Stress increases the chances of mental illness
Ongoing stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stress impacts one’s hormones, heart, and metabolism and unmanaged chronic stress lead to long-term changes in brain structure and function, which may lead to different mental illnesses.
4. Stress kills brain cells
found stressful events can kill the new neurons in your brain’s hippocampus which is the part of your brain that is researchers responsible for memory, emotion and learning.