How the Hormone Cortisol Can Shrink Your Brain

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson

What Does Chronic Stress Do to Your Brain?

What does the hormone cortisol have to do with your chronic stress?

Chronic stress is when you feel that you have no control over what happens in your life.  You can feel stuck, helpless, unable to change your circumstances. Feelings are about your emotions.

The frightening truth is that chronic stress does more than affect your emotions. It also has profound effect on the health and function of your brain.

If you think that stress is making you lose your mind, you are experiencing the effect of the hormone cortisol on your brain.

Keeping reading to find out how cortisol can actually shrink your brain.

Stress is affecting your brain much more than you think. Sure, you’ve experienced the distraction, forgetfulness, negativity or anxiety that comes from stressful situations, but did you know it’s also shrinking your brain? Hormones released in response to stress not only affect brain function, they also change the physical structure of your brain.

The stress hormone cortisol can kill, shrink, and stop the generation of new neurons in a portion of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is critical for learning, memory and emotional regulation, as well as shutting off the stress response after a stressful event is over: all much-needed processes in both our professional and personal lives.

Chronic stress can also shrink the medial prefrontal cortex.  This negatively affects decision making, working memory, and control of impulsive behavior. Stress also has the ability to affect stem cells, inhibiting access to the prefrontal cortex, where we plan complex cognitive behavior and moderate social interaction. The result is a brain that is less capable of learning and memory, and more prone to anxiety and depression.

Find out more on the Huffington Post. By Jenny C. Evans

[Original Post November 3, 2015]

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