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Prolonged chronic stress can affect brain health, claims study

Our reactions to stress harm our brain health.© Shutterstock

The recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory, zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : November 21, 2018 6:42 PM IST

A new research found that our response to even minor daily stressors, such as queuing for too long at the supermarket or getting stuck in traffic, can affect your brain health, particularly into old age. According to the study, prolonged stress can lead to a wide range of adverse health and mental conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, depression, and even schizophrenia. The findings of the study are available in Psychosomatic Medicine, the journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. The recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory, zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain.

The recent studies have suggested that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair memory, zooming in on the effects that stress has on the brain.

The new research has been led by Robert Stawski, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon's State University in Corvallis. And the research suggests that it is not so much the stressful events in themselves, but our reactions to them that harm our brain health.

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Specifically, the researchers have examined how seniors' response to everyday stressors, such as a traffic jam, affects their cognitive health.

The researchers have examined 111 seniors aged between 65 and 95 for 2.5 years. The researchers evaluated the participants' cognitive health using standardized assessments every 6 months, throughout the study.

However, the study found that overall people whose response to daily stressors involved more negative emotions, poorer mental focus and brain health. The research also revealed significant age differences. For example, the older participants who were in their late 70s and up to their late 90s were most affected. Their high-stress reactivity correlated with worse cognitive performance strongly.

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