The January 2016 edition of the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry included an interesting, but alarming, article on the cause of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
It seems like a simple activity, most of us just take as a normal part of life slowly and sneakily kills your brain function until nothing is left.
The good news is, this can be reversed if caught in time.
Scientists at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences, conducted a review of previously published studies and found that most of them backed the idea that stress could lead to depression and dementia.
According to scientists, stress affects the same parts of the brain as short-term fear and anxiety do. It causes the amygdala to become overactive while simultaneously suppressing the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
What does this mean?
The amygdala is the part of your brain that is most strongly associated with emotions. This is the part that becomes active when you are afraid or, as we are now learning, when you are stressed for a long period of time.
Your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are the parts of your brain where most of your logical thinking takes place. When you are extremely emotional, these thinking centers become under active and take a back seat to the amygdala.
The problem during long lasting stress periods is that your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are under active for years.
This causes the cells to degrade, making them less capable of the thinking operations for which they are responsible.
Think of your muscles. If you want them to be strong, you have to use them. The same holds for your hippocampus and your prefrontal cortex.
The new review of existing studies revealed that these thinking centers in the brains of people who suffer from chronic stress are smaller and physically different from those in the brains of people who live without such stress.
The biggest problem is that long-lasting stress in the past can affect your brain today. So if you were under a lot of stress in your 40s that’s now gone, your brain is still suffering.
The good news is you can workout your brain today to reverse this process. Doing word-puzzles, Sudoku, learn a language or juggle balls have all been shown to boost brain health.
I developed our Brain Booster exercises to load all parts of your brain with nutrition and oxygen. This is by far the most effective method I know to relax and boost brain function. Try these easy Brain Booster exercises for yourself here…