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Mental Disorder Can Stem from Chronic Stress

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Mental Stress

Stress can kill you. Actually stress is present all around us at work, at school and even at home. Modern life is full of deadlines, projects, hassles, bills to pay and various demands. Stress isn't all that bad because it encourages the body to work harder. It can even help you perform better and motivate you. However, if you're constantly stressed you can pay a higher price that will place a toll on your body and health. This is why you have to know whether you have too much stress and you should take certain steps on reducing it.


Stress is something which upsets balance and drives you hard. This condition turns your body into fight-or-flight mode. Your body releases stress hormones such as norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol, making your heart beat faster, your muscles tighten more, your blood pressure rise, your breath faster and your senses sharper. These changes further increase the strength and stamina of the body and sharpen your focus. However, when there is too much stress going on for a long time, this can further damage your health, both physically and psychologically. You may be overloaded with stress, which may further give rise to memory problems, difficulty in concentrating, poor judgement, anxiety, worrying, moodiness, irritability, anger, agitation, and depression. You may feel physical signs and symptoms such as constant body aches and pains, diarrhoea, constipation, dizziness, nausea, lack of sex drive, colds, less appetite, rapid heart rate, chest pain, insomnia, hypersomnia, substance abuse and nervousness.

There are many stressors that you have to watch out for. Some of these stressors include major life changes, work, relationship issues, financial worries, children and family and being busy. Other internal stressors include pessimism, long-term worry and negative self-image.

Stress and The Brain

Recently, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have found out that long-term stress can create long-term changes in the brain. This can probably explain why people who suffer from chronic stress often have mental problems such as mood and anxiety disorders. In this study, researchers have found out that chronic stress can make the brain produce more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons that normal. This gives rise to an excess of myelin and white matter which in turn disrupts communications within the brain. The researchers have only studied a part of the brain known as the hippocampus but soon they will also find out whether changes in the white matter can also lead to problems such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, PTSD and suicide.

The researchers think that in cases such as PTSD, there may be some problems in brain connectivity. PTSD patients could have stronger connections between the amygdala and the hippocampus and lesser connectivity between the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex. The amygdale and the hippocampus are both involved the body's fight or flight response while the pre-frontal cortex and the hippocampus are the ones involved with responses. Thus in PTSD, fear responses are better than responses.

Also, another finding is that acute and chronic stress has certain effects on the brain cells. The same researchers studied neural stem cells in the hippocampus of the brains of adult rats. The researchers found out that chronic stress made these stem cells in the hippocampus mature into an oligodendrocyte instead of an astrocyte, a glial cell that produces myelin that covers nerve cells. The researchers assumed that these changes could set the stage for future mental problems. Aside from these findings, there is also evidence that chronic stress can also affect learning and memory.

If you want to take care of your health you should stop stress from ruining your life. You should maintain-work life balance and don't bring extra work from your workplace to your home. Spend fun time with family and friends and stop worrying. Also, get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night so that you will feel refreshed in the morning. If you are smoking or drinking too much alcohol, stop now, as they can also contribute to stress.

To know more how to live healthier, read our other articles on this site.