Your brain on stress: Bye, bye memory!

5 years ago

Although this certainly applies to those with PTSD, I'll vouch for the fact that it applies to those with secondary PTSD (In my case, as a spouse of a veteran with PTSD from 3 wars).

Over the last month in particular I've found my memory slipping - and not just the little stuff. It started happening so regularly that I honestly wondered if I was started to get the signs of age-related cognitive decline (I'm 41). And while that may be the case, this article gave me some hope that it's temporary. (And if it's not, I'm signing up for a brain training program ASAP!)

A new study has found that chronic stress is neurologically linked to impaired memory. The results of the research may shed significant light on why stress responses are triggers for many mental illnesses. (e.g. a soldier deployed to a combat zone for a year comes home with major cognitive deficiences)

So what happens exactly? Stress hormones affect the PFC (prefrontal cortex). The PFC controls things like working memory and decision making. These are also known as "executive" functions.

Previous studies have shown that chronic stress impairs things like attention and "mental flexibility."

So, it's not that chronic stress necessarily has you thinking about emotional issues instead of what you went into the kitchen for. ("Oh, this divorce just makes me too sad to focus.") Instead, it's more like "Oh, the stress of this divorce is chemically impairing my prefrontal cortex functions, like short-term memory and attention."  (I dare you to say that at work!)

Here's the article:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/242627.php

 

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