Stress is more common than you may think, and it can have Interesting results on your brain. About 20 percent of Americans suffer from psychological illness, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Impacting roughly 40 million Americans, it is by far the most common mental illness in the nation. But, despite it being such a common illness, there are still many things that people do not know about stress’s impact on the mind.
“Stress is your mind’s way of preventing us from danger,” Dr. Alex Anastasiou, a psychiatrist specializing in anxiety treatment, tells Bustle. After the brain thinks you are at risk, it triggers the release of hormones, which include adrenaline and cortisol.
When the problem is over, the hormones Should go Back to their normal levels. However, anxiety can cause you to constantly feel threatened and contribute to an excess of those hormones. Anastasiou claims that cortisol, in particular, can influence everything from decision-making to memory.
Although stress serves a purpose and will help us react in Dangerous scenarios, too much anxiety can affect our brain in unexpected ways. To find out more about how anxiety affects the brain, experts describe the things that they wish you understood about America’s most popular mental illness.
1. It Makes Your Memory Short
If you find yourself feeling forgetful during stressful Periods, there is a scientific explanation. Anastasiou states that the increased cortisol from chronic anxiety shrinks the hippocampus, which he explains as the “memory center of the brain”
Stress’s effect in the hippocampus is well documented, and Persistent anxiety can cause forgetfulness and confusion. It is important to remember that this normally happens for chronic anxiety and not just sometimes periods of stress.
2. It Can Make You Impulsive
Individuals are able to make snap decisions in a bout of anxiety. This Is, in part, because of the cortisol’s impact on the adrenal gland. Anastasiou states that cortisol disengages the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of our brain responsible for helping people make decisions.
“This can lead to spontaneous behaviors, poor decision making, and irritability,” Anastasiou says.
So next time you’re feeling stressed, it May Be a Great idea to put off making any big decisions.
3. It May Lead to Depression
Anxiety and depression are two conditions that, while Distinct, often go together.
“Anxiety can often lead to symptoms of depression,” Anastasiou states.
According to the MayoClinic, depression can normally be Triggered by an anxiety disorder, and stress is typically an indication of depression. These conditions also discuss similar therapies — chiefly psychological counseling. If you are having problems dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety, it can be time for you to find professional help.
4. Your Anxiety May Be Influenced By The Way You’re Raised
From anxiety, which ranges from ecological to hereditary. Many popular research studies, for example, a 2018 study published in Child Development Studies, reveal that the way you were raised can play a significant part in your anxiety.
“Studies have shown that nurturing mothers have infants with More cortisol receptors, which adhere to cortisol and also dampen the stress response,” Anastasiou states. “Negligent moms increased the number of children who became more sensitive to stress in life.”
He says these are called “epigenetic changes,” which means that they impact how genes are expressed without changing the true genetic code. These modifications can actually be passed down, which, based on Anastasiou, means “one individual’s stressful experiences could affect future generations.”
5. It Could Cause Insomnia
There is nothing worse than getting anxious at night, and anxiety causes sleeplessness by activating the Sympathetic Nervous system, as seen throughout the fight-or-flight reaction. This changes our heartbeat, breathing, and brain waves, affecting the quality and length of sleep,” Anastasiou states.
According to the MayoClinic, additional symptoms of stress Include feeling anxious, an increased heart rate, and breathing rapidly. So it’s not just in mind — there is a scientific rationale for sleepless nights when you are combating anxiety.
6. It Can Impact Your Serotonin Levels
“Serotonin is among the body’s ‘feel good’ Compounds, says psychotherapist Avery Neal, M.A., LPC. previously told Bustle. “It affects mood, aggression, sex-drive, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, the urge to interact, and more.”
Consequently, an imbalance in serotonin levels may change your mood. And According to recent research from the University of Cambridge, some individuals are at a greater risk for improved anxiety and depression due to the way our dopamine transporter gene interacts with our surroundings.
7. It Happens The Way Fixing Your Amygdala Can Be
Because Your amygdala functions with the rest of your brain to Process and store emotions, for people with anxiety disorders, the amygdala could be extra sensitive. According to Harvard Medical School, “it overreacts to situations that are not really threatening, unwittingly activating the brain circuits that provoke a crisis pressure reaction”.
So in the long term, stress will be linked with those Memories that are related to bogus dangers, and the mind will essentially make up its own fears.
From releasing hormones to tripping insomnia, anxiety can Have wide-ranging, and sometimes fascinating, effects on your brain. If you are feeling consistently anxious, don’t hesitate to reach out to your mental health practitioner.