Latest News » Scientists find link between stress, depression and brain health

Stress can affect brain health in many ways.

Last year, CBS News reported on a study from the American Psychological Association and Harris Interactive that pegged millennials as "the most stressed generation" to date, but it's probably fair to say that all of us are feeling the strain of consistent anxiety. 

However, given how detrimental stress can be for overall brain health and well-being, it's important to identify and manage this issue. Recently, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, unearthed a connection between chronic stress levels and a shift in brain chemistry that may increase the risk of psychological concerns like depression. More specifically, chronic stress may lead to the production of more white matter in the brain, which can interfere with essential communications.

"If your [neurological] connections are not so good […] your ability to shut down responses is impaired," said associate professor Daniela Kaufer in a press release. "So, when you are in a stressful situation, the inhibitory pathways from the prefrontal cortex telling you not to get stressed don't work as well as the amygdala shouting to the hippocampus, 'This is terrible!' You have a much bigger response than you should."

The greater your responses to stressful situations, the more wear and tear your brain is subjected to – a phenomenon that has also been linked to the formation of cells that could provide the foundation for mental health disruptions. More research is required to understand this connection, but given the toll that stress can take on your health in general, it may be a good idea to reevaluate how you approach and manage this upheaval.

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