Friday, May 17, 2013

How Stress Effects Your Brain

Research published this past May 6th by researchers from King's College London reveals how stress hormones reduce the number of new brain cells.

That's right.  Prolonged stress saturates your system with fight or flight hormones which stops the creation of new cells in your brain.  In a process called "neurogenesis", your brain produces new cells in adult brains.  Unless, that is, you experience elevated levels of distress or negative stress over prolonged periods of time.  At a molecular level, stress and especially distress is known to increase levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) which in turn acts on a receptor called the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). How the GR decreases neurogenesis in the brain remains unclear and is still being researched.

In practical terms, this finding means that it is important that anyone experiencing high levels of stress over prolonged periods of time needs to develop strategies to manage their body's stress cycle, a topic that we discuss in other posts on this blog.

Story source:  Christoph Anacker, Annamaria Cattaneo, Ksenia Musaelyan, Patricia A. Zunszain, Mark Horowitz, Raffaella Molteni, Alessia Luoni, Francesca Calabrese, Katherine Tansey, Massimo Gennarelli, Sandrine Thuret, Jack Price, Rudolf Uher, Marco A. Riva, and Carmine M. Pariante. Role for the kinase SGK1 in stress, depression, and glucocorticoid effects on hippocampal neurogenesis. PNAS, May 6, 2013.

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