Thoughts

How Does Stress Influence Our Health and Intellectual Abilities?

Scientists have discovered that stress for a short period of time can help to shaken up the brain, but chronic prolonged stress harms our brain and prevents the development of intellectual abilities. We can’t avoid stressful situations, but we can create an environment that doesn’t provoke uncomfortable situations.  In addition, we should develop the ability to not react to stressful events that force us to lose our state of equilibrium.  We should accept that only the control of our own emotions is able to protect the brain from damage.

The World Health Organization has forecast that depression will rank as the number one illness from which people will suffer in 2020.  How does this state influence our brain, our cognitive abilities and  our development?

Researchers have identified two types of stresses, both having different effects on the human body and mind.

The first type is the short-term or acute stress.  The second type is the long-term or chronic stress.

What actually happens in the brain when we are under suppression from external events or internal thoughts?  An action or an emotion changes the brain activity, either strengthening or weakening neuron collections, and also subsequently turning on or turning off of certain neuron patterns.  Interactions between neurons take place due to both electric pulses and specific chemicals known as neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters contribute to the transmission of neuron impulses.  The state of tension stimulates the human body to generate the hormone cortisol, a neurotransmitter.  How does this hormone influence the human body and mind?

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have discovered that stress can be either helpful or harmful.  A certain effect depends on the dose of attack that one receives.  In general, stress is a protective and adaptive response to trouble. Stress hormones, in particular cortisol, secreted in such moments, quickly mobilize our body and brain to cope with adversity.  Acute stress rearranges the human body and the brain into a state of combat, a natural reaction to danger.  When this occurs, cortisol is released into the blood stream, helping humans to manage negative situations by giving the body and  the mind a burst of energy.  This increases our tolerance for pain and improves memorizing.  This mechanism is beneficial because all power of our body and brain get mobilized.  The researchers have determined that acute stress stimulates neurogenesis, the formation of new neuron cells from stem cells stored in the brain. Such short-term stress enhances the synthesis of a specific substance that provokes the growth of new neurons.

However, too much cortisol in the human body may have adverse effects on health.  The experiments have shown that chronic stress, which is accompanied by a huge increase of stress hormones, suppresses the activity of stem cells in the hippocampus, thereby preventing neurogenesis.  Moreover, chronic stress damages existing neuron patterns because the process of neuron activation gets out of control.  Excessive functional activity provoked by huge release of cortisol harms neuron cells and their connections. This process negatively affects the functioning of neuron patterns and leads to their dying..  During sleep, the brain removes the products of biochemical reactions from the body, increasing the stress resistance of human organisms.

Therefore, short stress is needed to help reinvigorate the brain, but chronic stress harms our brain and prevents the development of intellectual abilities.  We can’t avoid stressful situations, but we can create an environment that doesn’t provoke uncomfortable situations. .  In addition, we should develop the ability to not react to stressful events that force us to lose our state of equilibrium.  We should accept that only the control of our own emotions is able to protect the brain from damage.

 

 

 

Source:

http://www.who.int/mental_health/publications/action_plan/en/

http://news.berkeley.edu/2013/04/16/researchers-find-out-why-some-stress-is-good-for-you/

Svetlana Stroganova, Nikolai Shmelev

 

 

 

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