Chronic Stress Can Change Your Brain: function and structure…



New Research shows serious neurological consequences of burnout.

The more stressed you are, the harder it is to deal with stressors in the future.  Once we get into an exhaustion phase, our brain finds it less and less able to cope with ongoing stressors.  And this is whether we are aware of this process, or not!

This biological stress model was originally developed by Dr. Hans Selye, endorcinologist.  He demonstrated that we can resist stress only for so long before our body/brain go into an exhaustion phase that depletes us of our reserves.

Then we add further compensatory mechanisms like caffeine, sugar, pushing longer hours at work, concerns over employment, finances, and economy, and nutrition-lacking comfort foods to help us ‘cope’ with our predicament and we find ourselves in what Selye termed decompensation, leading to burnout, or burning our core energy reserves. This can only lead to lower energy, poorer focus, further feelings of ineffectiveness, and eventually illness.  Once our brain is overwhelmed, we have a real problem. And it is ever more difficult to face and deal with the future.

Recent research results showed that burnout subjects had a harder time suppressing their reactions to a loud sound. In other words, the people who were stressed to begin with, had a harder time dealing with new stressor.

Researchers also scanned participants’ brains while they were sitting quietly and found that the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with fear and aggression, was bigger among participants in the burnout group. More stressed participants also had stronger connections between the amygdala and brain areas linked to emotional distress.

According to the study, led by Armita Golkar, Ph.D., at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and cited by the Association for Psychological Science, burnout changes neural circuits in the brain hurts people’s ability to cope with stressful situations.

As for why the burned-out participants had trouble regulating their emotions, the brain scans revealed that they had weaker connections between the amygdala (the trauma reactor in the brain) and the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with executive function. I other words, they could not tell the manage stressful situations by saying to themselves, ‘this is just a momentary situation and you will be OK”.

These findings have significant implications for burned-out workers well-being. The researchers say that difficulty suppressing negative emotions would make them more vulnerable to symptoms of depression as well.  Makes sense!

My work since 1985 has focused on helping people cope better in life by removing the unresolved stress that we carry as a consequence of living in a highly pressured world.  Since we are all obviously susceptible to burnout, we all seek our own ways to help us deal with it.  Competent exercise and a balanced diet are certainly primary here.  But what else have I seen that can help?

Since we know that our brain (Central Nervous System) is capable of learning/evolving, and since it is responsible for all problem solving in our constantly changing reality, if it is overwhelmed in any way, then it will find it obgoingly more difficult to function day to day.  By providing the brain with ongoing, real time feedback about how it is functioning, our brain is capable of improving its own function, called neuroplasticity.  It can learn from itself if we are able to mirror back to it, its own electro-chemical activity.  This is what NeurOptimal® can do in a completely non-invasive, no-side effects manner.

We get calls daily from people who have heard about NeurOptimal from someone else who is having good results from our neurofeedback brain training process.  The people who contact us get sessions, they rent a system for a month of two to three, they purchase a Personal or Professional system, and some even get certified, and train others. People only tell others about something when it works.  That is how our business works. Lots of word of mouth.

Let us know if we can answer your questions or send you some resources to better understand how NeurOptimal is changing people’s lives in an upward direction.  Why cope when you can thrive?

Get the Neuroplasticity Report here and see the Independent Study of NeurOptimal’s benefits.


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