Stress may cause brain to shrink

January 12, 2012|Andrea K. Walker

If  you're stressed out from a divorce, a hard day at work or a fight with your girlfriend it might be causing your brain to shrink.

A study by Yale University researchers found that stressful life events can reduce gray matter in regions of the brain that regulate emotion and important physiological functions in healthy people.

Past studies have only linked stress to brain structure changes associated with psychiatric disorders, such as addiction, depression and anxiety. The effects of stress on the brains of healthy individuals hasn't been clear.

The researchers looked at MRIs of more than 100 healthy people. They found the changes soon after stressful events occured and said the findings may serve as warning signals of future psychiatric disorders and chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension.

The study, which was published in the  the journal Biological Psychiatry  was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
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