Stress Can Shrink Your Brain

September 22, 2006

imagesa.jpgWe may be working overtime lately, we may be doing a lot of things at the same time, we have kids and family problems…they can be work related etc…all contribute to “stress”.  It is inevitable…we cant escape from it but we should know how to handle it!  Especially with this new research that showed that stress can SHRINK your brain and prematurely age your immune system.

Essentially, the study mentioned in the NIH website presented at the 2006 Annual convention of American Psychological Association emphasized that “stress can addle your mind and make you older.” The study involving rats showed that stress causes neuron in the brain to shrink resulting in memory impairment and this may be happening to humans too. 

With stress, our body starts to produce the so called ” stress” hormones like steroid, catecholamines that have been shown to cause some changes in the brain which result in poor memory with less ability to remember and learn.  The same mechanism may be true why stress in one study can affect one’s mood and result in depression.  Likewise the immune system of a stressed individual tend to age faster due to the shortening of the chunks of DNA which make cells work properly.

But there’s a upside to this news according to the researchers: Exercise has been shown to reverse the defect.  And, in the case of the brain at least, “time might heal the wounds caused by stress.”

So what do we need to do: My Threesome Rules Of Stress Relief!

1. Get sufficient sleep most days of the week,

2. Make an effort to be active throughout life, and

3. Have a healthy diet 

My Practical Tip: solve a problem right away once it crops up.  Delaying action on one issue while analyzing another endeavor will contribute to unnecessary stress. So while seeing a patient in my medical clinic, and if a problem crops up in my research clinic… I pause first, excuse myself from my patient and settle the research problem.  In so doing I am now free to listen and deal with the problems of my patient! And I tell you…it works to lessen the stress! Again it’s how you handle the stress!

Take Good Care of Your Brain…Beat The Stress!

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9 Responses to “Stress Can Shrink Your Brain”

  1. maxim Says:

    Thanks for the tip Doctor.

    Another way is good planning to lessen stress. Knowing what are the the things that really matter than being drowned in the unimportant and urgent things, could help.

  2. Tina Says:

    The title alone made me smile since it conjured up images of the characters in Mario Bros. the movie , remember the bad guys there were heavy built but had such small heads. (Must be stressful to be a “bad” guy.)
    On a more serious note, the eye opener for me was when I had a colleague who retired after doing several years of stressful work. He was so filled with happiness knowing that finally he can walk away from all that …. only to undergo a heart bypass two weeks after receiving his retirement pay. He worked himself to that point only to have all the money he has worked for pay for his medical bills. Now I only have to think of my friend on one of my stressful days and it practically makes me stop in my tracks and I remind myself to slow down and avoid the same trap that my friend fell into.

  3. Doc Gerry Says:

    Thanks for sharing the story…

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  8. i joist Says:

    Goodd post. I learn something totally new and chalenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday.
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