Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain

Stress can be caused by anything that requires you to adjust to a change in your environment

Effects of Chronic Stress on the BrainIn other sections of this website we have looked at effects of stress on the heart and immune system so now, it’s time to look at the effects of chronic stress on the brain.

We all know and accept that stress is a natural part of your life. Without some stress, you would lose your energy for living. You will thrive on certain amounts, but too much or too little stress will limit your effectiveness.

Ideally, you find your optimal level of stress—the balance at which you are most motivated.

Stress can be caused by anything that requires you to adjust to a change in your environment. Your body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

Even a perceived challenge can activate the mind/body system, resulting in increased alertness and action, but chronic activation of this response leads to abnormal responses to stress.

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain

The hippocampus has high levels of cortisol receptors, and chronic stress impairs hippocampal function leading to:

  • neuronal atrophy and destruction of neurones
  • decreased short term memory
  • decreased contextual memory
  • poor regulation of endocrine response to stress

Reference: McEwan BS. Protective and Damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 1983;338(3):171-179

The long-term effects of chronic stress on the brain are excessive levels of cortisol in the brain which impairs the function of the hippocampus. This leads to neuronal atrophy and destruction of neurones, decreased short term and contextual memory, and poor regulation of the endocrine response to stress.

Related Research findings:

Effects of Stress on the Immune System
Chronic stress affects the immune system by increasing sympathetic activity and decreasing cellular immunity …

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System
Chronic stress can create significant damage to the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of coronary artery disease …

Normal and Abnormal Responses to Stress
When stressed, your body creates extra energy to protect itself. If not used, this extra energy creates an imbalance within your system.

The Biochemical Response to Stress
Chronic acute stress leads to an out of balance biochemistry with elevated cortisol and suppressed serotonin, consequently, stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health …

When we are under stress our bodies are functioning in survival mode (fight, flight or freeze)

Learn to meditate, learn how to cope with stressOur immune system weakens, we tend to be more reactive (rather than responsive), more guarded, defensive (crying over spilt milk). And most importantly – our quality of life, our life satisfaction is lowered.

Vedic Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques available for reducing stress and anxiety. As a result, you no longer store as much stress and tension in your body. This allows you to start responding to life with a positive attitude – relaxed, resilient and care-free. It is also one of the easiest to learn and simplest to practice.

If you are in Auckland (NZ) call me on 09 419 5380.  Or email to find our how Vedic Meditation could help you achieve better health.

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