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Stress makes your brain smaller (and other scary things you need to know)


Stress stinks. It makes your heart race, your head hurt, your mind go blank—it’s pretty much a happiness killer. But it’s not just that stress isn’t fun; according to a number of scientific studies, it’s actually bad for your body. Here’s what stress can do (and how to make it stop).
 

The amazing shrinking brain

A study conducted with rats found that those placed under chronic stress experienced a decrease in size of their hippocampus. The hippocampus is in charge of forming memories. While the results have not been duplicated in humans, there is also a link between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a smaller hippocampus. Eek!

 

Old before your time

There’s something to be said for acting older than your years, but that doesn’t mean we want our bodies to physically show signs of premature aging. A group of scientists found that children who had been bullied or emotionally abused showed signs of aging at the cellular level.

 

Got the blues?

Researchers found that exposing mice to high levels of stress actually kill neurons and prevented the productions of new brain cells. That production, called neurogenesis, is what helps you have a healthy response to stress. Bottom line? High stress leads to dealing with stress badly, which can lead to depression.

 

From sniffles to full-blown cold

When you’re stressed out, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Overproduction of cortisol makes you experience cold symptoms because they are spurred on by the immune system’s automatic inflammatory response. This means that chronic inflammatory diseases that like asthma can also be worsened by stress.

 

Pain in the neck

Most people hold their stress somewhere in their bodies, whether it’s in their shoulder blades, resulting in a knot in the muscle, or in their jaws, which they clench together through particularly difficult situations. That jaw clenching can wear down and even crack your teeth, and cause excruciating pain in your mouth and neck. Owwie.

 

 

 

Deep breath babes. Ahh… Now tell us: How do you deal with stress? Share your best stress-less tips in the comments!

 

 

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BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 10/1/2013 12:59:00 PM

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