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Monday, January 9, 2012

Anyone else horrified by this important news?

I don't know about you, but I was thinking my head had gotten smaller.
This is a Yale press release and it's amazingly interesting. It tells me: Take a darn big breath, go for a walk and relax.
Yale says: "Even in the healthy, stress causes brain to shrink, Yale study shows"

NEW HAVEN.— Experiencing stressful life events, such as a divorce or job loss, can reduce gray matter in critical regions of the brain that regulate emotion and important physiological functions — even in healthy individuals, Yale researchers report in a study published online the week of Jan. 9 in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
The brain imaging study of more than 100 healthy subjects suggests these differences are apparent soon after stressful events occur and may serve as warning signals of future psychiatric disorders and chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, said Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, and professor in the Department of Neurobiology and the Yale Child Study Center.
Chronic abuse, trauma, and stress have been linked to changes in brain structure and function in animals and to psychiatric disorders such as addiction, depression, and anxiety in humans.  However, the effects of stress on brains of healthy individuals have been unclear. Yale researchers decided to look at the volume of gray matter — the tissue containing nerve cells and their branching projections called dendrites — in a group of community participants.
The team conducted magnetic resonance imaging scans of 103 healthy subjects who had been interviewed about traumatic stress and adverse life events, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a home to natural disaster, job loss or divorce. They found that even the brains of subjects who had only recently experienced a stressful life event showed markedly lower gray matter in portions of the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that regulates not only emotions and self-control, but physiological functions such as blood pressure and glucose levels.
"The accumulation of stressful life events may make it more challenging for these individuals to deal with future stress, particularly if the next demanding event requires effortful control, emotion regulation, or integrated social processing to overcome it," said Emily Ansell, assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study.
Sinha said that the study illustrates the need to address causes of stress in life "and find ways to deal with the emotional fallout."
 "The brain is dynamic and plastic and things can improve — but only if stress is dealt with in a healthy manner," Sinha said. "If not, the effects of stress can have a negative impact on both our physical and mental health."
Other Yale-affiliated authors of the study are Kenneth Rando, Kerit Tuit, and Joseph Guarnaccia.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health

Links:Rajita Sinha

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. It is unedited here. (That means it's a press release, written by those smart folks over at Yale. We did not even touch it up. It's posted here as a public service.)


Anonymous Andrew Jhonsonn said...

When I'm really stressed I usually feel like there are 100 other things wrong with me. My chest hurts, it's hard to breathe, my shoulders and neck hurt. I also wake up sometimes when I've just fallen asleep to my heart pounding so hard I feel like I'm having a heart attack. I'm always suprised at what a big physical toll stress can take on your body. It's scary. Exercise is the only thing that really makes me feel better. I don't think I have the energy, but I push myself and find that I feel so much better after.
Andrew Jhonsonn

January 09, 2012 10:45 AM 

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