Stress and its Effects on Memory and the Brain
The human body is an excellent living organism. It can grow and develop. However, it is also quite volatile and susceptible to external influences.
The demands of this modern world mean that we are subjecting our minds and bodies to all sorts of pressures. The kind that would have been completely alien to our ancestors whose feelings of pressure and tension drew from stressors of a more primal nature.
Today we’re confronted with living life in the fast lane, having preservatives in our food, as well as a polluted and congested environment. All of these things take a toll and often result in stress.
In this article, we take a look at both the good and bad sides of stress. How it affects our bodies and minds. We’ll also dive into how assisted living facilities can help people with memory loss resulting from stress and other health factors.
The Problem with Stress
Stress is the body’s normal reaction to change. It’s how our body copes and is able to deal with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Even the positive events in our lives can be a cause of stress – a promotion, buying that first home, experiencing childbirth.
Stress does have some positives. It keeps us alert and motivated. It also serves as an effective mechanism to help us avoid getting into dangerous situations.
However, there is obviously a dark side to stress. As is often said, too much of something is bad for the body. An excessive amount of stress can be problematic. It can affect both physical and mental health. Chronic stress can affect a person’s sleep patterns, libido, and appetite. It can also exacerbate a range of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal problems.
The Connection between Stress and Memory Loss
Research was done by Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts linking stress and memory loss. According to their published findings in the journal of Neurology, “people with high levels of blood cortisol had much poorer memory when compared with peers with normal cortisol levels. Importantly, impaired memory was present in these individuals even before obvious symptoms of memory loss set in.”
Cortisol is the main stress hormone and is produced by the adrenal glands. Specifically, it works with certain parts of the brain to control a person’s mood, motivation, and fear.
In this study, it’s also interesting to note that participants with high cortisol levels tended to have lower total brain volumes, which could be indicative of memory loss.
A total of 2,018 participants agreed to undergo MRI scans so the volume of their brains could be measured. Those classified as belonging to the high-cortisol group “had an average total cerebral brain volume of 88.5 percent of total cranial volume versus 88.7 percent of total cranial volume in people with regular cortisol levels.”
Assisted Living and Dementia
The decline in mental ability to the point that it interferes with daily life is called dementia. In the study above, those individuals who are often stressed have a higher tendency of experiencing dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common examples of dementia. People with this type of memory loss are admitted into an assisted living facility that can help them deal with their condition and retain as much of a normal life as possible.
Fallbrook Assisted Living is proud to offer its services to Fremont, NE and surrounding areas and cities: Arlington, Cedar Bluffs, Ames Nickerson, Fontanelle, Arlington, Leshara, Colon, and Hooper