Mind & Body

Stress Can Shrink Your Brain

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Studies have shown that chronic stress and depression can decrease your brain volume, especially in the prefrontal cortex. One team of Yale scientists isolated a genetic transcription factor that could contribute to this problem, called GATA1. When it was activated, it seemed to repress the formation of connections between brain cells, which meant not only smaller brains, but fewer synapses inside the brains. Another 2012 study in Biological Psychiatry found that "cumulative adversity" resulted in smaller gray matter volume, particularly in areas that deal with stress and emotion.

Can Stress Actually Kill You?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Humans have difficulty with blocking stress hormones and can become overwhelmed. 00:27

  2. Brain cells are heavily affected by stress, including a decrease in cell size. 01:37

  3. Stress can accelerate the shortening of telomeres, effectively speeding up the aging process. 01:59

Written by Curiosity Staff March 3, 2016

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