Patient Handouts Summary Everyone feels stressed from time to time.
Many people encounter stress from multiple sources, including work; money, health, and relationship worries; and media overload. With so many sources of stress, it is difficult to find time to relax and disengage. This is why stress is one of the biggest health problems facing people today.
Chronic Stress Chronic stress increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancerand a weakened immune system. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression.
Previous research has found physical differences in the brains of people with stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder PTSDand those without.
People who experience chronic stress have more white matter in some areas of the brain. The UC Berkeley study wanted to find out the underlying reason for this alteration in the brain composition. Gray Matter Gray matter in the brain is composed mainly of two types of cells: White matter mostly is composed of axons, which form a network of fibers to connect the neurons.
For this study, the researchers focused on the cells that produce myelin in the brain to see if they could find a connection between stress and the proportion of gray brain matter to white.
Hippocampus The researchers performed a series of experiments on adult rats, focusing on the hippocampus region of the brain which regulates memory and emotions. During the experiments, they found the neural stem cells behaved differently than expected.
Prior to this study, the general belief was that these stem cells would only become neurons or astrocyte cells, a type of glial cell. However, under stress, these cells became another type of glial cells, oligodendrocyte, which are the myelin-producing cells.
These cells also help form the synapses, which are the communication tools that allow nerve cells to exchange information. Thus, chronic stress causes more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons.
This disrupts the balance in the brain, causing communication in the brain cells to lose its normal timing, which could lead to problems.
This might lead to a stronger connection between the hippocampus and the amygdala the area that processes the fight-or-flight response. It might also cause weaker connectivity between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex the area that moderates the responses.
If the amygdala and hippocampus have a stronger connection, the response to fear is more rapid. If the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus is weaker, then the ability to calm down and shut off the stress response is impaired.
Therefore, in a stressful situation, a person with this imbalance will have a stronger response with a limited ability to shut down that response. Oligodencdrocyte Cells This study shows that the oligodendrocyte cells might play a key role in long-term changes to the brain that could lead to mental health problems.
The researchers also believe that the stem cells which, due to chronic stress, are becoming myelin-producing cells rather than neurons, affect cognitive function, because it is the neurons that process and transmit the electrical information necessary for learning and memory skills.
More research is required to verify these findings, including studying humans rather than rats, which the researchers have planned. However, this study provides important insight into why chronic stress affects the brain and mental health, and how early intervention can help prevent the development of certain mental health problems.
How Stress Affects Mental Health Related Articles Marissa Maldonado Marissa Maldonado has spent years in dual diagnosis treatment centers as an outreach coordinator that specializes in helping people find mental health treatment at Sovereign Health Group.11 Signs It's More Serious Than the Common Cold 2 11 Signs It's More Serious Than the Common Cold Doctors explain how to tell if you have the common cold or something more.
But while a limited amount of stress is normal, and even healthy, continuous or severe stress can be very harmful to your physical and mental health. Types of Stress Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain.
How alcohol affects the brain and the varying mental health side effects that can result from excessive drinking. Alcohol and brain chemistry; Alcohol, stress and anxiety.
Work-related stress and how to tackle it. Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.
Apr 20, · Linda Bacon, Ph.D, dreads swimsuit season, but not because she has anything against the beach. Instead, the California-based nutritionist fears what the season brings: scores of otherwise health.
higher levels of stress than others who also relied on the Gulf for a source of income.8,12,13,18,19,22 State and federal agencies closed fishing grounds while .