Stress affects the brain and health

Take a look at this animation which explains how traumatic events can lead to stress and what you can do about it.

A transcript of the video follows.


How stress effects the brain and health Video Transcript

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event? If you have, you are not alone.

A recent survey of Americans found that 9 out of every 10 people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.

But did you know that such experiences could be affecting your health and well being? The stress of a traumatic event impacts your brain in a very specific way. Your brain would have activated your sympathetic nervous system and releases hormones that flood your brain and body with adrenaline and cortisol. The brain’s alarm system, the emotional limbic part of your brain, is responsible for this. And it also turns off your logical rational thinking part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex.

You will likely experience this by feeling emotional. Either sad or angry or frightened. And you will not be able to think clearly. You may snap, or scream, or cry, or lash out in anger.

The problem is it doesn’t end here. A traumatic event can actually change the way your brain responds from that day onwards.

After a traumatic experience, anything that even vaguely reminds your brain about what happened will again cause very specific changes in your brain. Your brain’s alarm system can become hypervigilant. The brain doesn’t forget. This means that anything even vaguely similar to the traumatic event will trigger another emotional storm in your brain.

And over time, this can impact your brain and body in many ways. Because of these changes to the brain, you can end up with a variety of health problems such as anxiety, depression, and even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may trigger bipolar disorder and is known to influence schizophrenia.

But it’s not just mental health problems that can occur due to traumatic experiences.

The changes that happen in the brain also impact the rest of your body. You may end up with high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and high breathing rates. This puts extra stress on your cardiovascular system. Your immune system may also be affected, and you can end up with higher levels of inflammation.

And there are a whole host of health problems that are linked with high inflammation and a weakened immune system. You may also end up with difficulty focusing and paying attention. A host of digestive system problems are also linked to these stress induced changes that occur in the brain due to traumatic experiences.

And your muscles can get stiff, tight and sore. Stress also turns off the small muscles close to your spine and skull, making it harder for your brain to know accurately what is going on in and around you.

If you think your health concerns are a result of your traumatic experiences, it’s important you seek help from experienced healthcare providers.

You may need help from several different health care providers, depending on what sort of symptoms you have. We are all so different, and stressful events can affect us in different ways.

If you have ended up with mental health problems, it’s important to seek professional advice from a trained mental health professional. They can help you in many ways. They can help you by reframing your experiences and calming your brain down so it stops being so overreactive.

Exercising is also known to be helpful. It helps pump out all the cortisol and adrenaline from your body and can help limber up your stiff sore muscles. Even as little as a short walk every day will help.

Mindfulness, meditation and yoga can also be very helpful. Both can help you be more present in your body and your mind, which is key to calming down your brain’s overreactive alarm system.

Eating healthy natural foods is also very helpful. Your brain and body is already stressed, so does not need the additional burden of having to deal with artificial chemicals in processed foods.

It’s also a great idea to regularly see your family chiropractor. Your chiropractor can activate the small muscles closest to your spine and skull, which will help your brain know more accurately what’s going on inside your body and the world around you. Chiropractic care also provides you with safe touch that can be very healing.

And we know chiropractic adjustments can change processing in the part prefrontal cortex.

You want this part of your brain working as well as it can, as this part of the brain helps you think clearly and rationally, and is connected to your calming and healing nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system.

This is probably why so many people who see chiropractors report that it makes them feel well, relax easier, and cope better.

So if you suspect your current health concerns could be due to traumatic events from your past, do seek help from trained health care providers, exercise regularly, do yoga and mindfulness meditation, and regularly go and see your family chiropractor so you can relax easier, feel better, be more resilient, and function at your best.

Video References

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