Experts: A healthy brain doesn't need too much stress
(CNN) -- Stress is a normal part of taking a test or
dealing with traffic on your way to work. But too much stress,
doctors say, can have detrimental effects on your health and
wreak havoc with normal brain function.
The problem starts with a perceived or actual threat, which
then signals the body to release chemicals into the blood
stream to prepare for a survival instinct called "fight
or flight," according to Dr. Douglas Bremner, of Emory
University in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the brain, these chemicals take the form of stress
hormones, which studies have shown can shrink the area of the
brain called the hippocampus. Chronic stress, Bremner said,
can also harm mental concentration and reduce a person's
Stress hormones can "make you think faster and do
better," Bremner told CNN. "But if you release too
much you can't think at all."
Learning to turn stress off is the key to maintaining
healthy brain function, experts said, and can protect a
person's quality of life.