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How stress changes the brain, according to a new study

If you have a lot of stress in your life – nevertheless, most of us – it can lead to…

If you have a lot of stress in your life – nevertheless, most of us – it can lead to memory loss and little brain shrinkage within 50 years, says a new study. Published in the journal Neurology research shows that over time, high levels of stress hormone, cortisol, were associated with memory loss and real brain shrinkage. While stress changes the brain in some potentially serious ways, there are things you can do to counter its effects. Researchers stress (ahem) that you do not have to stress about these results, but there is a lot you can do.

“Higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, seem to predict brain function, brain size and performance on cognitive tests,” said Dr. Sudha Seshadri, a neurology professor at UT Health San Antonio, to CNN. “We found memory loss and brain shrinkage at relatively young people long before any symptoms could be seen. It is never too early to pay attention to reducing stress. “

For this study, over 2,000 other health, middle age volunteers participated in research. Study writers found that participants with higher blood cortisol levels did not work as well in memory tests compared to those with stressed participants also showed little brain shrinkage, and these effects were also more pronounced among female participants. CNN notes that the data was adjusted by age, gender and whether or not participants were smoked.

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TIME reports that MRI investigations during the eight-year survey were used to assess brain volume, while each student underwent a psychological test that tested their memory and thinking skills. Blood tests were also used to track cortisol levels. TIME also notes that while researchers did not follow up to see if study participants developed later dementia, it is possible that the long-term effects of cortisol in the brain can predict cognitive decline in recent years.

“We have previously shown that changes to this extent predict levels of mental dementia, including vascular injury, two or three decades later,” said Dr. Seshadri TIME .

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] While this information can be a lot to be done, it’s important to note that little stress is an all natural part of life. Under the body’s normal stress reaction, cortisol is central to the fight or flight response, according to LiveScience. If you need to handle a legitimate threat, cortisol function during a stressful event is the key to being sure. However, when the threat passes, cortisol levels should decrease again when the body recovers hemostasis. When this does not happen and the cortisol content is high, health problems may occur in the long term.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to counteract the potential damage that chronic stress can cause. According to Verywell Mind, self-care strategies can make a big difference in how resilient you are to stress. Regular exercise, get enough sleep and eat well can all majorly up your stress endurance. By mentally framing the stressors in your life as challenges that can make you stronger or uncomfortable that will pass, you will better be better able to handle whatever happens. In addition, by keeping socially committed and supported and pursuing things you love to do, you can help keep your mind sharp while providing the emotional support you need to navigate in life’s basketball balls. Stress happens, so take a deep breath, take care of yourself and try not to stress your stress.

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