Suppose you are one of those people who lives every day with your foot on the gas. You run around the office and never take five minutes to even take a breath. Lunchtime is always destined to see a client or attend a meeting, and you know what your entry time is, but you do not have exit time. Be careful because here we tell you how stress affects your brain.
Simply put, your life is stressful and it doesn’t seem to bother you. Sure, from time to time your stomach protests or your head hurts, but that’s what antacids and painkillers exist for, right?
If this description was familiar to you and stress is a staple in your life, you should know that you are damaging your brain in ways you would never imagine possible.
How stress affects your brain
From the outset, you should know that various neurological studies have detected that stress, regardless of its cause, alters brain circuits, producing a negative effect on mental health.
The prefrontal cortex is altered
Just to give you an idea of how important this area is, the prefrontal cortex regulates decision-making for social behavior, responsibility, and judgment.
When you are stressed, you release substances (such as cortisol and norepinephrine) that alter the functioning of the prefrontal cortex . If we take into account that rational thinking develops in this part of the brain, with stress reactive behaviors increase, reducing reflective ones and giving way to anxiety and depression.
Perhaps this explanation is very technical, but in simple words, stress prevents you from reasoning, so you act impulsively and have a greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety .
Consequences of chronic stress:
- Kills brain cells. Thanks to a study by researchers at Rosalind Franklin University, it is known that a single stressful event can kill neurons in the hippocampus (this area is associated with memory, emotions and learning).
- Changes the structure of the brain. Although the effect is long-term, researchers have found that chronic stress can cause alterations in gray and white matter, which affects the transmission of information between different parts of the brain.
- Reduces the size of the brain . Believe it or not, stress can cause the brain areas associated with emotion regulation, self-control, metabolism, and memory to contract. And believe us, it is not just that you have occasional forgetfulness, stress can cause you to be unable to orient yourself in space and your short-term memory is affected.