Stress affects human life in many ways. Stress interferes with sleep, affects your mood, makes you sick. But more importantly, stress damages the brain.
We all experience stress, don't we? But if you experience stress regularly it can have a huge effect on the human mind and body. It can cause mental exhaustion and make people irritable or angry. It also causes people to be unable to sleep, lose their appetite and libido. Stress can also increase the risk of various diseases, including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disease, and diabetes.
Recently, a group of researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, investigated further the impact of stress on the brain. In their study, they involved 2,000 middle-aged people, who followed the study for eight years. Those who took part in the experiment also took psychological exams, memory tests, and thinking skills tests before the study.
Researchers also took blood samples to measure levels of the hormone cortisol in their blood. Cortisol is a hormone that is often associated with stress.
Their results showed that people who had high levels of cortisol in their blood did not perform as well on memory tests as those whose cortisol levels were classified as normal.
In addition, the results of the study showed that their low memory skills appeared to be present, even before the symptoms of memory decline appeared.
"Our research detects memory loss and reduced brain volume in middle-aged people before symptoms appear," explains Dr. Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, who authored the study. "So it's very important that people try to find ways to reduce stress."
"For example, by getting enough sleep, doing light exercise, doing relaxation in daily life, also asking doctors about their cortisol levels. In addition to taking medication to reduce cortisol levels, if needed," he added.