February 18, 2018

The Effects of Stress on the Brain

From the daily frustrations of work and home life to the more personal areas of life like friendships and relationships, stress is a common denominator in everybody’s day. Stress is an entirely relative situation and so is the way in which your brain handles it. Neurofeedback testing provides answers to individuals who are seeking more information on how their brains handle stress and how they can alter their lifestyle to better care for their brain.

Stress can have some pretty crazy effects on both your mind and your body, and while we are more likely to see what our stress is doing to our body — it can be difficult to notice how stress levels are affecting your mind.


Long-Term Effects of Stress

Experiencing stress is inevitable, as we said before, but being overly continuously stressed can have some long-term effects on both your brain and your body. This is due to a build-up of cortisol which your body creates when it is under stress.

Cortisol is a normal hormone for your body to produce, but when you are under stress, your body creates much more than usual. When your brain has too much cortisol, its functionality begins to suffer. Below are a few of the ways that you see a buildup of cortisol affecting your brain.


Synapse Regulation is Disrupted

We’ve talked a little bit about how cortisol is a regulated hormone that your body produces, but stress increases the amount of cortisol which, in turn, disrupts the regulation of other areas of your brain. The first one that we’re going to talk about is the synapse regulation.

This is best explained as your social skills and ability to manage temperament throughout the day. It is also tied to forgetfulness and distraction levels. When your brain’s synaptic molecules are regulated, you are more likely to be in a good mood, more patient and more comfortable in social situations.

When stress levels are high, enzymes attack your synaptic molecules which are why those heightened stress levels lead to crabby moods, frustration, forgetfulness, and an overall bad attitude.


Kill Brain Cells

Our memory is one of our most valuable gifts, and it’s unfortunate to know that stress levels can kill brain cells within the hippocampus which is where our memories are stored. Because of the high amounts of cortisol that your body is producing, another free radical called glutamate is created, and these molecules attack the brain cells.

If it sounds frightening that this free radical is killing brain cells, it’s because it is. These free radical molecules puncture holes in the brain cells and cause the cells to die. Though these cells are primarily in the hippocampus area, they destroy many new brain cells too which makes it difficult for the brain to grow and develop further.


A Buildup of Anxiety & Depression

Depression and anxiety affect a good portion of the American society. Believe it or not, these forms of mental health diagnosis are correlated with stress levels too. Though they aren’t the sole reason for these diagnoses to happen, they are a significant cause for them.

The reason behind this is due to where in the brain your stress builds up: the amygdala. This is where your brain recognizes fear, which is how the spiked emotions of anxiety and depression occur. Stress has a pretty intense effect on your amygdala — expanding the size and the number of connections that are being made, which sets off additional recognition of fear for your brain, thus emitting feelings of anxiety and depression.


Every Brain is Different, so Test Yours!

Neuro Performance recognizes that every brain is different which is why the activities that provide neurofeedback are essential for people to take part in. If you’re interested in seeing how your brain handles stress and how it may be affecting other areas of your life, it’s time to book your neurofeedback testing.

These activities are easy to finish and will unveil information that allows for you to gain knowledge and understanding of why your body and emotions are reacting specific ways. Reach out to our team today and book your first session of neurofeedback.

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