According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90% of all illness and disease is stress-related! Stress is the most common cause of changes in brain function.
A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that those people who experience chronic stress due to bullying or a tough job run a higher risk of memory loss!
Additionally, the inability to remember coincided with measurable changes in the mice’s brains. Immune cells, or macrophages, appeared in the brains of the stressed mice, indicating that inflammation had occurred. The appearance of macrophages is a well documented immune system response to the stress.
What is chronic stress?
The stress response is designed to be an answer to short-term problems like being chased by a swarm of bees or rushing into battle.
With chronic stress however, the body remains in this heightened state for prolonged periods and the stress hormones run rampant within the body.
There are three parts of the brain that are highly involved in how we recognise and respond to stressors:
- the amygdala
- the hippocampus
- and the prefrontal cortex
These three areas of the brain work with the hypothalamus to turn on and off the production of stress hormones and related responses like an increased heart rate.
Among the common chronic stress and memory loss symptoms include:
- weakened immune system,
- ulcers and heartburn,
- impotence or infertility,
- flare ups of acne, psoriasis and eczema,
- a heightened risk of cardiac arrest and,
- memory problems,
- inability to concentrate
Another study found that in rats who were exposed to chronic stress, the hippocampus actually shrank. The hippocampus is integral to forming memories.
The good news is that effects of chronic stress can resolve within 28 days. The mouse study the mice showed evidence of social avoidance, a measure of depressive behavior as a consequence. Focus on the hippocampus, a hub of memory and emotional response, revealed shortfalls in the development of new neurons at 10 and 28 days after the stressful period ended.
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