The team at Neuro Drinks realizes that most people experience stress at some point during their day. We will look at some of the ways stress affects the brain.
The amygdala, also known as the brain’s “fear center,” turns on the central stress system when one is frightened. This section of the brain manages stress hormones, specifically cortisol. It enables people to react to a threat by increasing blood flow, glucose levels, and heart rate. Under normal circumstances, hormone levels return to normal levels after the immediate threat passes.
Over the years, neuroscientists have discovered that chronic stress can carry heavy consequences. Short-term stress, the one fueling an individual’s fight or flight response, is crucial for survival. Such stress enables a person to respond to danger signs immediately. Conversely, stress can be incredibly harmful when it becomes chronic. Extended periods of stress cause the system to remain on high alert, even at times when there is no danger present. In addition, the same hormones responsible for a person’s fight or flight response can also cause issues with sleep and digestion. Prolonged exposure to these stress hormones can also weaken the immune system. This makes a person vulnerable to chronic health issues and viruses such as the flu.
The experts at Neuro Drinks note that stress can alter neural pathways. Chronic stress changes a person’s nervous system and can alter their behavior. When the brain is constantly vigilant, it can negatively affect physical health.
In studies aimed to learn more about stress, researchers found that experiencing traumatic events can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and drug addiction. Studies also note that astrocytes, or the central cells in the nervous system, shrink or recoil from synapses. This, in turn, results in a disturbance in neural communication. Synapses are parts of the brain that enable information to proceed from one cell to another through neurotransmitters.
More research may be required to establish the effects of stress on people. That said, scientists feel it is plausible. They mention that molecular pathways are also present in humans. Researchers further observed that stress changes brain function. This change leads to long-term changes in physiology and human behavior.
Probing the neurobiology of stress can unravel how stress impacts neural connections and brain function. Further research hopes to yield more information. This information will be used to aid in formulating measures to stop common neurological problems associated with stress.
As the Neuro Drinks team notes, neurons aren’t the only cells in the brain. Glial cells compose roughly 33 to 66 percent of the cells in the brain. These cells are believed to be the glue that holds the neurons together. Scientists have established four types of glial cells. These are astrocytes, microglia, NG2-glia, and oligodendrocytes.
Neurons form linkages or synapses through which they interchange information within the brain. This information exchange requires a third partner: astrocytes. Astrocytes are crucial for developing and preserving synaptic connections. They are star-shaped cells with “fine processes” that act like limbs extending outward from the center of the cell. Astrocytes are the most common type of glial cells.
According to research, neurons degenerate and die when astrocytes are not available. The involvement of astrocytes in the information exchange process is crucial. They can balance synaptic transmission through interaction with neurons’ excitatory and inhibitory chemicals. They accomplish this by extending their fine processes outward to tap synaptic neuron partners.
Scientists are already aware of the contributions of astrocytes to synaptic connections. However, they are still learning more about their comprehensive role.
The experts at Neuro Drinks know that it is important to investigate the relationship between neurons, astrocytes, and stress. Astrocytes play a significant role in stress-related behavior, including modifying synaptic connectivity. Researchers have also discovered a molecular pathway that manages GluA1 synthesis. With this discovery, they have confirmed that stress restructures astrocytes.
Do you usually suffer from high levels of stress? If so, what do you do to de-stress? Share your thoughts with the Neuro Drinks team in the comments.