Don’t Forget To Not Be Stressed!

We have all been told that stress is bad for us. The Type A personality and heart disease link is well known and the benefits of a stress-free life are heavily promoted by organisations, therapists and lifestyle coaches. If hearing all the damage stress was doing wasn’t making you more stressed already, here is some more evidence against stress!

Researchers at Edinburgh University have shown in mice that there is a relationship between stress and memory function. Cortisol, a hormone released in response to (emotional and physical) stress has been found to have an effect on two particular receptors in the brain circuitry that influence memory. The first receptor is activated by low levels of cortisol and helps memory. However once the hormone levels rise significantly, the second receptor was activated which influenced brain processes that actually caused memory loss. According to the scientists, this research helps explain why memory function declines after long periods of stress.

Knowing more about these mechanisms will help improve understanding about memory which one hopes could be translated in to treatments for forgetfulness! The role of stress in Alzheimer’s disease is also being researched by a UK team lead by Prof Clive Holmes from Southampton University. There is some data already out there that suggests stress is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s Disease – a Swedish study found that over 35 years, there was 65% higher rate of the disease in the women who reported periods of stress in their lives. Stress relief could therefore become an important part of the prevention and/or treatment of Alzheimer’s, addressing both psychological and physical effects of the emotion.

Feeling more stressed and forgetful yet?!

Contributed by Anya de Iongh

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