Everyone considers stress a bad news. It does not only disrupt your life, but it can also take its toll in your overall wellbeing. The health risks of an individual suffering from chronic stress can snowball fast and serious.
This is not to say, though, that a short burst of stress is not good. In fact, it has proven that a pinch of it can save you from a threatening or challenging situation. For example, while hiking on a trail, you’d come face to face with a grizzly bear. Your body’s first reaction would be to panic. Adrenaline and cortisol— which are actually stress hormones — kick in, and the next thing you know, you’re running for your life with the speed you’d never thought possible. Once you’ve made sure that the bear is not a threat, your hormone levels return to normal.
Brain Inflammation and Loss of Healthy Cells
Research has pointed out that too much ongoing stress can be dangerous. This is because the body’s stress response takes a toll on your body.
A recent study suggests prolonged stress may be the culprit for brain inflammation, which itself leads to depression and memory loss. When this inflammation continues, the body becomes its own enemy: it begins to attack healthy cells, tissues and blood vessels, including that of the brain.
McKim et. al. (2016) from Ohio University used mice to test out how stressors can affect the brain. They taught the mice to navigate their way to the exit of a maze. In one group, the researchers introduced more mice, causing one group of mice stress. The result showed that the stressed mice weren’t able to recall the way out, while the non-stressed group easily remembered the path to exit the maze.
The stressed group then underwent brain scans, and the results showed strong evidence of brain inflammation. Moreover, the experiment prevented the growth of new brain cells. The effect is long-lasting as well; the stressed mice displayed social avoidance, a factor that measures human behavior affected by depression, for almost a month. The study is believed to be the first one to provide the correlation between short-term memory loss and brain inflammation.
The next step now is for the researchers to see if the human brain has the same reactions. If it has, it would open up a lot of possibilities in creating new treatments for stress and clinical depression.
Dealing with Stress
Learning to cope with stress does not only make a day bearable and happiness possible, but can also go a long way for one’s health and wellbeing.
Here are two ways you can adapt with stress:
We all know stress isn't good for us. This study shows us again that the effect of stress is real and measurable. Although certain amounts of stress can help us achieve, the effects on our health and productivity need to be taken into consideration.
Oakville Wellness Team
McKim, D., Niraula, A., Tarr, A., Wohleb, E., Sheridan, J., & Godbout, J., 2016. Neuroinflammatory Dynamics Underlie Memory Impairments after Repeated Social Defeat. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2 March 2016, 36(9): 2590-2604; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2394-15.2016
Lansdowne AT & Provost S.C., 1998. Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter. Psychopharmacology 135 (4): 319–323. doi: 10.1007/s002130050517.