Biologists at the University of California Berkeley have recently conducted testing that has indicated that increased stress on the body can alter brain chemistry significantly. They believe that chronic stress can cause disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety in adults.
It comes as no surprise that constant repetitive stress can have long-term effects on our bodies and our emotional well-being. The primary concern lies in how this can manifest in different individuals and how to solve the core problem rather than simply treat the symptoms.
The researchers believe that their study can lead to the development of therapies that can help reduce the likelihood of developing mental disorders after experiencing prolonged stress. Individuals who show signs of disorders such as PTSD also have a higher percentage of white matter than gray matter in their brains. Gray matter is the part of our brain that stores and processes information while white matter controls the flow of electrical signals in the brain. The imbalance in adults may be one of the factors that lead to mental disorders requiring treatment.
While their investigation has been focusing on adults primarily, the researchers are following up by conducting studies to see if stress in childhood also impacts the development of brain matter.
Chronic or prolonged stress impacts our brains in ways that we have just begun to understand.
Since researchers do not yet understand the exact stressors that cause the brain to develop more white matter over time, it is important to try to control your stress levels on a regular basis. Here are a few simple tips.
- Set limits and feel comfortable saying no
- Develop a support network of friends and family
- Commit to improving your overall health
- Improve your sleep habits for more restful sleep
- Seek help by talking with a professional
Are you concerned about the effects of chronic stress in your life?
Image by Daniel Lobo via Flickr