Dr. Forshee, Psy.D, LCSW spoke with Elite Daily about how stress impacts your brain/body over time.
For the study, which has been published in the medical journal Neurology, researchers explored how stress affects the brain long-term by first analyzing cognitive data from 2,231 middle-aged participants involved in the Framingham Heart Study (which, BTW, first began in 1948). Of that number, 2,018 participants underwent a fasted MRI to measure their brain volumes and track the rise and fall of their blood cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone).
Before I get ahead of myself here, in order to understand the results of this study, you need to know what stress actually does to the brain the moment anxieties build up and boil over. Basically, when you’re experiencing stress, your body interprets the feeling as a source of danger, mental health counselor Danielle Forshee, LLC explains. When this happens, your fight or flight mode turns on, in which “a cascade of hormones” — aka cortisol — course through your body and lead to a quickened heart rate, high blood pressure, a ton of energy, and a loss of focus and attention on anything but the issue at hand. At the same time, Forshee tells Elite Daily, your body prepares your physical muscles for action. Sounds exhausting, right?
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