Stress and Brain
Most common causes of stress. Which one is yours?
Physical Stress – 2 types
1.) High impact, quick event
This is your car accident, sports injury, slip and fall, concussion, birth trauma for the mother and infant, and just playing at the park with your friends.
2.) Low impact, repetitive over time
This is your lifestyle habits; sitting for work and commute, walking and standing with poor posture, texting and using a cellphone, using a laptop, and even sleeping on a soft bed, stomach, or the same side for years. Being overweight will cause a physical stress.
This is what you put into your mouth, or what you don’t put into it.
Too much of coffee, sugar, gluten, dairy, food coloring, GMO foods, red meat, and/or not enough variety. It may even be a lack of water (dehydration is the most common chemical stress), not enough nutrients due to a poor diet, lack of vitamins and essential nutrients to help the body heal. This is why all the programs we recommend include nutrition and supplementation advice. We may even refer you to our Naturopath or a Nutritionist if necessary. Other recommendations may be a cleanse in the early part of a program, as chemical stress will slow down the healing process.
Other chemical stressor's are over the counter and prescription medications.These change the chemistry of your body and can affect how you heal.
Emotional stress will be the biggest impact on your brain health. You have work, family, children, friends, parents, etc. who rely on you. You also have your relationship with self-stress (are you your own best friend or worst enemy), commuter stress, lack of sleep stress, health stress, financial stress and many more.
The article titled Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity (Psychology Today,February 2014) documents the research out of Berkley, California. It states “chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function”. Their findings explain why young people who are exposed to chronic stress early in life are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life, as well as learning difficulties. Researchers established that elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They found that these changes in young adulthood—which is a critical time for brain development—could cause mental illness (depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD). This alone is why a child should be evaluated for brain stress.
What does the science show regarding stress and the brain?
The hippocampus regulates memory and emotions, and plays a role in various emotional disorders. This area has been shown to shrink under extended periods of acute stress.
YOUR BRAIN SHRINKS under stress!
Chronic stress has the ability to flip a switch in stem cells that turns them into a type of cell that inhibits connections to the pre-frontal cortex. Proper connections in this area improve learning and memory, but, under chronic stress, it lays down durable scaffolding linked to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
YOU BECOME HARD WIRED FOR ANXIETY, DEPRESION, AND PTSD.
Why does stress and cortisol cause such havoc?
Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action—but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Are you racing down the streets screaming after your boss gives you a new deadline? Most likely not; thus, cortisol starts to build up in your blood. Ironically, our own biology—which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers—is sabotaging our bodies and minds in a sedentary digital age.
Cortisol is believed to create a domino effect that hard-wires pathways between the hippocampus and amygdala in a way that might create a vicious cycle by creating a brain that becomes predisposed to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight.
Our integrative team measures cortisol, food sensitivities and other bio-markers of elevated stress.