Chronic stress increases the cortisol hormone, the stress hormone, which affects various brain functions. This exposes you to the risk of having mood disorders and other mental issues. It is true to mention that stress is normal and part of human life, especially in the modern way of life. Acute and chronic stresses are the two main forms of stress. It is worth noting that not all stress forms are harmful to your health. Acute stress is a reasonable reaction to an immediate threat.
What is chronic stress
It is commonly regarded as the fight or flight’ response. Once the threat is out, the stress hormonal levels stabilize, and there are not long-lasting effects. On the contrary, chronic stress is harmful to your health. Unfortunately, the modern life is full of such forms of stress. From the study, over 9 out of 10 visits to the doctor are stress-related. Chronic stress makes your body vulnerable to a lot more health risks.
Your body is not the only one affected by elevated stress levels. The brain too is negatively impacted. In cases of chronic stress, your brain function is altered. This can even trickle down to the DNA structure. Adrenaline (also called the epinephrine) and norepinephrine are two common stress hormones produced when needed in extreme moments of excitement. In cases of emergency, they help you to move and reason faster. Usually, they are meant to save your life. They come and disappear in the same speed.
On the other hand, cortisol may stream through the system the entire day. This is dangerous for your health. It is usually a public enemy. Uncontrolled production of cortisol may cause weight gain, digestive problems, hormonal imbalance, heart problems, diabetes, and cancer among other health issues. Chronic stress takes a toll in the adrenal glands. It causes exhaustion, mood, lack of sleep, low attention spans, and memory problems.
Effects of chronic stress on the brain
The brain is equally affected by increased stress. Some of the common symptoms include memory problems, unexplained worry, and anxiety. However, most problems in the brain are behind the scenes. They take effect without your notice but the side effects will be experienced later. The common negative effects of stress to the brain are:
- Stress kills the brain cells due to the free radicals created in the brain. The extra neurotransmitter glutamate causes radicals that will eat up the cells in the brain.
- Makes one emotional and abnormally forgetful.
- Creates a vicious cycle of anxiety and unreasonable fear as well as depression.
- Stress halts the brain functions and creation of new cells.
- Exposes toxins to the brain causing it shrink and ill.
- It contributes to brain inflammation and depression.
- It causes health risks and in some cases suicide due to uncontrolled thoughts.