According to the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey, Americans are stressed over many things: political climate, the future of our nation, personal safety, police violence towards minorities, and money are just a few key topics mentioned. The survey also noted that this additional stress is affecting our nation’s health, with many experiencing headaches, feeling overwhelmed, feeling nervous/anxious, and feeling depressed or sad. It is commonly known that stress can cause us emotional and physical strain. What many people don’t realize, however, is the effect this has on the brain.
The Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care explained chronic stress as this,
“Chronic stress is a pathological state that is caused by prolonged activation of the normal acute physiological stress response, which can wreak havoc on immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems, and lead to atrophy of the brain’s hippocampus (crucial for long-term memory and spatial navigation).”
To explain this in detail, the brain consists of both grey and white matter. Gray matter is densely packed with neurons and is responsible for higher functions such as thinking, decision making, and computing. White matter is composed of axons, which create fibers that connect neurons for communication pathways between various regions of the brain. Chronic stress has been found to induce excess cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can hardwire pathways between the hippocampus and the amygdala in a way that could potentially create a vicious cycle of “fight or flight” within the brain.
Put simply, chronic stress can flip and switch cells that would improve learning and memory into durable, wrecking passageways for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’re experiencing depression or general unhappiness, anxiety and agitation, moodiness, irritability, anger, overwhelming feelings, loneliness, isolation, or other mental/emotional problems for prolonged periods of time, you may have chronic stress. Many people with chronic stress attempt to self-medicate by abusing drugs or alcohol – this can lead to further emotional and physical problems. Make the decision to seek help immediately so that you can overcome these challenges and be on your way to a happier, healthier life.
Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery treatment program. We believe in holistic recovery, meaning that we provide resources and support to help you restore your mind, body, and spirit. Make the decision to seek help today. Call us at 888-743-0490 for a consultation.