Stress and the Brain

Studies: there appears to be an interaction between stress and drug abuse/addiction. Stress may play a role in the start of drug use and/or in relapse (e.g., the reawakening of a learned behavior). (Zickler, Patrick. Addictive Drugs and Stress. p 1, 6-7. MD:National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol. 18, No. 5, Dec 2003.)

According to Dr. Orzack, a licensed clinical psychologist, founder and coordinator of McLean Hospital’s Computer Addiction Service and a member of the Harvard Medical school faculty, psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction to computer/video games/internet use may include the following:

Psychological Symptoms

  • Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Craving more and more time at the computer
  • Neglect of family and friends
  • Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
  • Lying to employers and family about activities
  • Problems with school or job

Physical Symptoms

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Backaches
  • Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances, change in sleep pattern

(Orzack, Maressa Hecht, PhD)

Refer to Addiction and the Brain for additional information.

Stress stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Unchecked, chronic stress—along with attitudes like hostility, anger, and depression—can lead to sickness and death. Adrenaline released during stress can stimulate the release of fat cells into the bloodstream. This provides extra energy if it was a real emergency. If not, the liver converts the fat into cholesterol. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Aerobic exercise helps to dissipate cortisol released during stress. But high levels of stress appear to nullify some of the effects of aerobic exercise. It can be helpful to exercise after the most stressful part of the day is over and/or exercise again after a stressful episode. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for The Brain. p 193-200. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Studies: there is a relationship between stress and aging. The faster you rev your body with stress, the more quickly you age. Physically, chronic stress alters immune responses. (Roizen, Micahel F, MD. Real Age. p 258-259. NY:Cliff Street Books, 2000.)

Chronic anger and resentment ages a person quickly. Studies: Those who showed the most forgiveness had lower heart rate, lower blood pressure levels, and less reactivity to stress. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 133-135. CA:Biomed General. 2007.)

Some trials suggest that reducing stress levels through meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy can slow the progress of the disease. Trust in God may work through the same pathway. (Marchant, Jo. Cure. P 223-224. NY:Crown Publishers, 2016.)

The theory has been that alcohol may affect brain chemicals that signal the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. To study this, researchers at the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System in Dallas recorded the breath alcohol concentrations and cortisol levels in a three groups of patients: a group of alcohol-dependent patients who were abstinent and participating in a residential treatment program, a group who were intoxicated and in the treatment program, and a group who were going through withdrawal. The study found:

  • Both the intoxicated group and the withdrawal group had increased cortisol levels compared to the abstinent group
  • Cortisol concentrations actually increased during the progression from intoxication to withdrawal
  • Alcohol consumption increases the body's production of cortisol, not only while the person is intoxicated, but also when the drinker is withdrawing from the effects of intoxication; cortisol does remain elevated throughout the drinking cycle
  • A high level of intoxication can cause a state of general stress, which can stimulate cortisol release.

(www.verywell.com/heavy-drinking-increases-stress-hormone-63201. Accessed 7-16)

Studies have shown that resilience, the ability to cope with stress, reflects how well a person is able to adapt to the psychological and physiological responses involved in the stress response. When under stress, the brain and body respond rapidly, pushing normal metabolic processes into high gear. The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis or HPA triggers changes in hormonal levels that prepare the body either to fight the stressor or to flee from it (the fight-flight response). During this process, the HPA works very hard to maintain an appropriate balance of stress hormones and other brain/chemicals. Studies have shown that when alcohol is added to this mix, the body is put at even greater risk for harm because alcohol triggers the release of higher amounts of cortisol. In turn, this alters the brain’s chemistry and ‘resets’ what the body considers ‘normal.’ Unfortunately, alcohol also prevents the body from returning to its initial balance point, so it must set a new point of physiological functioning known as allostasis. The setting of a new balance point puts wear and tear on the body and increases the risk of serious disease. (http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA85/AA85.htm. Accessed 7-16)

This term indicates a situation when damaging effects of stress hormones predominate: they create imbalances in the immune and nervous systems, can harm the hippocampus, impair memory, increase abdominal fat, increases insulin resistance, degrades the myelin sheath, and increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, and artery blockages. (Goleman, Daniel. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 45-47. MA:More Than Sound, 2011)

The stress reaction creates specific hormonal imbalances that have been shown to damage brain cells, and may even lead to Alzheimer disease. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 39-42. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Chronic anger and resentment ages a person quickly. Studies: Those who showed the most forgiveness had lower heart rate, lower blood pressure levels, and less reactivity to stress. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 133-135. CA:Biomed General. 2007.)

Anger impacts the body in the same way regardless of whether the brain perceives that the anger was justified. Adrenalin rises and the nervous system is thrown into a state of alarm. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 56-57. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Studies: on the brain’s adaptation to chronic fear and anger (especially when experienced early in life). Resulting changes in hormone levels may become permanent in the individual’s lifetime; the altered chemical profile may actually become encoded in the genes and passed on to the new generations, which may become successively more aggressive. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 167-168. NY:Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

A single episode of recalling an experience of anger and frustration can depress your immune system for almost an entire day. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 41-43. CA:Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Refer to Emotions and the Brain for additional information.

Antidepressants can be very helpful in reversing the ill effects that stress has on brain chemistry, but they still won’t get rid of the stress that threw the chemicals out-of-balance in the first place. Only removing the stress can do that. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p 214. NY:Vantage Press, 2001.)

Some things can be an emotional antidote to stress or illness including laugher, humor, appreciation of life, responding to art, music, social support system, etc. (Cousins, Norman, PhD (honorary). Head First. p 145-148. NY: Penguin Books, 1989.)

In any moment of crisis, just feel grateful for something, anything. Appreciation is one of the easiest things to feel and can take the edge off even the toughest situation. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 109-112. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Arguing impacts cortisol (lowers levels) as well as the lower range of blood sugar (raises levels – as opposed to insulin that impacts higher ranges of blood sugar levels). Some individuals trigger arguments because five minutes of negative interactions results in a six-hour decrease in cortisol levels. They are, in effect, self-medicating and tend to argue at 6am, 3pm, and 9pm. When hormonal imbalances are addressed, arguing tendencies may resolve. (Borkin, Michael, PhD. Sabre Sciences, Inc(TM). Lecture, January 2014)

Denying your authentic self may generate the most stress because your life energy is being diverted and therefore depleted, you are compromised mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Long-term the cumulative effects can kill you. (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters. p 32. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Attempting to stay in the moment helps one to achieve quality longevity. Mindfulness or mindful awareness, the subtle process of moment-to-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical states, is key to sharpening memory and staying mentally fit. This ability not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also boosts the immune system and promotes health and healing for a variety of  medical illnesses and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and chronic pain. (Small, Gary, MD. The Longevity Bible. NY: Hyperion Books, p 8-9. 2006)

UC Berkeley studies: discovered link between bossiness (boys do physically, girls do verbally) and better health. Less-dominant preschoolers had higher heart rates and significant secretion of stress hormones. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 86-88. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

The brain is usually the first body system to recognize a stressor. It reacts with split-second timing to instruct the rest of the body in how to adjust to the stressor. It can stimulate the “stress reaction” for as long as 72 hours after a traumatic incident. Repeated stress can result in a chronic stress response throughout the body. Stress destroys brain cells. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 61. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

The prefrontal cortex is able to help you maintain emotional balance. It can inhibit impulses from the amygdala. The left prefrontal area conains circuits that are active during positive states such as energy, engagement, and enthusiasm. (Goleman, Daniel. The Brain and Emotional Intelleigence: New Insights. p 29-31. MA:More Than Sounds, 2011)

Brain cells are destroyed by stress, especially in the hippocampus (involved with learning and memory). The hippocampus may be the brain organ most sensitive to stress. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 60-62. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.)

Studies by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada appear to correlate abuse during childhood with changes to the brain (e.g., genes that code for cortisol receptors were about 40 percent less active in people who had been abused as children than in those who had not). Over the past decade or so, researchers at McGill U have shown correlations between affectionate mothering in animals and altered gene expression of genes that allowed them to dampen their physiological response to stress. These latest studies seem to show that a similar effect appears in human brains, as well. (Carey, Benedict. After Abuse, Changes in the Brain. NYT, 2009.)

Brain organs located in the limbic system (e.g., Hippocampus) are believed to be the most sensitive region of the brain to stress. Prolonged stress can kill cells in the hippocampus as well as in other areas of the brain. (Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. p 86-87, 139. VA: ASCD, 1991.)

Stress causes brain damage and stress reduction enhances it. Provides several suggestions (e.g., correct breathing, reframing) along with stress-reducing exercises that can shift the functional balance of the cerebral hemispheres. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 120-127, 198-200. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Studies find evidence that severe stress may sometimes alter brain cells, brain structure and brain function. As a consequence memory problems and the development of some mental diseases, including depression, may erupt. (Society for Neuroscience. Stress and the Brain. Brain Briefings, 2003.)

“Essential cortical real estate” can be lost in response to illness, high stress, depression, and trauma. “If the stress is brief, this decrease in size is temporary. It if is too prolonged, the damage is permanent.” (Doidge, Norman, MD. The Brain that Changes Itself (as featured on PBS’s The Brain Fitness Program. p 241-250. NY:Penguin Books, 2007.)

Chronic or severe stress likely interferes with the production of new cells in the adult brain’s hippocampus. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.)

Studies: stress in children. Long-term family conflict interferes with the development of the hippocampus. A shrunken hippocampus has been linked to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 226. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

The root cause of a lot of social stresses is the inner violence created by dysfunctional communication between the heart and the mind. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 112. CA: Planetary Publications, 1194, 1998.)

Metally focus on your heart. It can help you regulate your emotions. Picture taking disturbed feelings into the heart and soaking them there. This won’t necessarily make the issue disappear, but it can take the density out of your cellular memory and reduce its power. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Emotional stress may increase one’s risk of cancer: directly (e.g., trigger abnormal cell development) or indirectly (e.g., reducing immune competence or surveillance). (Cousins, Norman, MD (honorary). Head First. p 80-100. NY: Penguin Books, 1989.)

Refer to Illness and Healing (below) for additional information.

Refer to Cellular Memory for additional information.

Humans sometimes fail under pressure (witness the unexpected catastrophes in the Olympic trials and in almost any high-stakes sports event) the reasons may be worlds apart. In “The Art of Failure,” Malcom Gladwell described the difference between panic (too little thinking and reverting to instinct) and choking (thinking too much and a loss of instinct). Although most people get nervous at times, not everyone chokes. A team of neuroscientist in London used fMRI studies to gain insight into choking. They found that activity in the ventral striatum (a subcortical brain region dense with dopamine neurons) tended to increase as people got more excited about potential rewards. In some, however, striatum activity was inversely related to the magnitude of the reward. Translated, this may mean that some individuals fall apart (choke) under the pressure of the moment because they care too much. The pleasure of the activity has vanished. What remains is the fear of losing, a fear of failure, which can trigger choking. (Source 1) (Source 2)

Serum cholesterol tends to increase with almost any type of stress (e.g., especially with shift work, and night work). This tends to happen even when the person’s diet remains constant. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 68-70. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.)

There is still no one identified cause for Chronic Fatigue Symptoms. Rollin McCraty, IHM’s Research director reports: in many cases of CFIDS extra wear and tear from stress placed on the autonomic nervous system (and the glands and organs they control) depletes the nervous system. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 50-51. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Chronic Fatigue it is a form of stress-induced chronic depression. Exercise and antidepressants can help especially if you catch it early enough. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p 30-32. NY:Vantage Press, 2001.)

The term allostatic load indicates a situation when damaging effects of stress hormones predominate: they create imbalances in the immune and nervous systems, can harm the hippocampus, impair memory, increase abdominal fat, increases insulin resistance, degrades the myelin sheath, and increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, and artery blockages. (Goleman, Daniel Jay, PhD. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 45-47. MA:More Than Sound, 2011)

Sheldon Cohen, Carnegie Mellon University director of the Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease, and his research team were the first to show how chronic stressors can lead directly to the common cold. They found that the immune cells of people suffering from chronic stress (e.g., conflicts with bosses, spouses, close relatives; prolonged unemployment) gradually became insensitive to the ability of cortisol (stress hormone) to reduce inflammation. Thus, when exposed to a cold virus, their bodies were unable effectively to prevent disease symptoms caused by the inflammatory response. Individuals with ongoing conflict with others had more than twice the risk of getting a cold than those without chronic stress issues; the unemployed or underemployed had five times the risk of getting a cold when exposed to the virus. (Source)

Stress can undermine both cognitive and emotional stability. The longer the brain remains stressed, the more perceptions of reality are altered. (Newberg, Andrew, MD, and Mark Robert Waldman. P 266-267. Why We Believe What We Believe. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006.)

According to a ten-year study by Penn State Researchers, a person’s reaction to daily stressors is predictive of future chronic health conditions. The study of 435 participants included saliva tests to measure levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Results showed that emotional reactivity to daily stressors was associated with an increased risk that the study participant would report a chronic physical health condition ten (10) years later. It was also associated with adverse same-day health (e.g., sore throat, fatigue, backache, headache, fatigue). A key finding: It’s not the daily hassles as much as the distress they can trigger and the person’s reaction to them. (Source)

Complex carbohydrates can raise levels of serotonin and help alleviate stress. It takes longer to achieve the calming effect but this is better in the long run because complex carbohydrates don’t cause huge blood-sugar swings or trigger a rebound effect. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 137-138. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues conducted four studies to evaluate the effects of heavy computer and cell phone by young adults on sleep quality, stress levels, and general mental health. The studies found that young adults who make particularly heavy use of mobile phones and computers run a greater risk of sleep disturbances, stress, and symptoms of mental health. Heavy use of mobile phones was linked to an increase in sleeping problems in males and an increase in depressive symptoms in both males and females. (http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/28245  University of Gothenburg. "Intensive mobile phone use affects young people's sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611134233.htm. Accessed 7-16).

Studies by Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have shown links between frequent computer use without breaks and late at night and health problems.

  • Frequent computer use without breaks was found to increase the risk of stress, sleeping problems, and depressive symptoms in women
  • Males who use computers extensively without breaks were more likely to develop sleeping problems.

Regularly using a computer late at night was associated not only with sleep disorders but also with stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-volpi-md-pc-facs/technology-depression_b_1723625.html. Accessed 7-16).

In its reaction to stressors, the brain has more than the fight-or-flight option. There is the tend-and-befriend option (females are more likely to engage this option) as well as withdraw-and-conserve. This is seen when the person pulls back to save energy, often when faced with the death of a loved one. (Myers, David G. Psychology. NY:Worth Publishers, p 533.)

Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex in association with the stress response, inhibits immune system activity. (Tortora, Gerard J., and Sandra R. Grabowski. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. p 795. NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003.)

Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels. The hippocapus is very rich in cortisol receptors so increased cortisol and disconnect existing neural networks, decrease capacity to learn, and contribute to memroy loss. (Goleman, Daniel Jay, PhD. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 46-50. MA:More Than Sound, 2011)

Abnormally high levels of stress trigger the release of highly toxic amounts of brain chemicals called corticosteroids. At high levels they literally attack brain cells (e.g., hippocampus) causing permanent damage. (Quartz, Steven, R., PhD and Terrence J. Sejnowski PhD. Liars, Lovers, and Heroes. p 195-196. NY: HarperCollins, 2002.)

Stress stimulates the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol that can begin to tear down cellular structures. Chronic unchecked stress (along with hostility, anger, and depression) can cause illness and eventual death. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Physical or mental stress produces neuropeptides that trigger release of cortisol, which exerts a negative effect on the brain. It can actually destroy brain cells. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 12-13. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

Studies: blood levels of cortisol rise with prolonged stress, and this can impact neurotransmitter balance in the brain (especially serotonin and dopamine). (Lombard, Jay, Dr., and Dr. Christian Renna. Balance Your Brain, Balance Your life. p 95-96. NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004.)

A boy who had a crisis at home in the morning may come to school with a higher cortisol level than his sister. The boy may be unable to learn for much of the morning, because he can take hours to process emotively and manage the same information as girls. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Positive emotions (e.g., happiness, compassion, love, appreciation) tend to increase order and balance in the nervous system (and create harmonious heart rhythms) that help to reduce stress and enable people to perceive the world around them more clearly. Also reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 13-14. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Studies on stress: can wreak havoc with one’s metabolism, raise blood pressure, burst white blood cells, increase flatulence, negatively impact libido, and damage the brain. (Sapolsky, Robert M., PhD. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. p 248. NY: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1994.)

Study: exercise can decrease hydrocortisone levels in the brain. People who engage in regular exercise appear to be less susceptible to the exhausting effects of stress to the brain. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 42. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Cortisol is the stress hormone released when your brain recognizes a "stressor." Designed for short-term emergencies cortisol is made in your adrenal glands and increases blood pressure, impacts immune function, and raises blood sugar to give you fast energy. That’s the good news. Cortisol levels that stay high for too long are linked with increased risks for diabetes, high blood pressure, memory issues, insomnia, and increased belly fat, to name a few. Belly fat cells reportedly have four times as many receptors for cortisol compared to fat cells at other locations in your body. Researchers at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, studied the effects of a mindfulness program for stress eating on Cortisol Awakening Response or CAR and abdominal fat. Study results showed that Improvements in mindfulness, chronic stress, and CAR were associated with reductions in abdominal fat. (Daubenmier, J.,, et al http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21977314  Accessed 7-16)

Three or more incidents of intense stress with a year (e.g., serious financial trouble, being fired, divorce) triples death rates in socially isolated middle-aged males, but have no impact on the death rate of men who cultivate many close relationships. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 6-8. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

Stress stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Unchecked, chronic stress—along with attitudes like hostility, anger, and depression—can lead to sickness and death. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Risk versus reward are processed differently in the brain in people who make decisions when under stress. According to studies by Mather and Lighthall, reported in Current Directions in Psychological Science, individuals who make decisions when under stress are more likely to pay more attention to the upside of a possible outcome (than the downside). For example, a person under stress might decide to take a street drug to feel better momentarily and ignore the potential negative consequences; or take a new job with a slightly higher salary while ignoring the consequences of a longer and more stressful commute. Knowing this, if you are under stress, try to hold off on making a big decision. [Source]

There is no stress in any situation until the person feels strain, and this is different for every brain. The distress felt is not the result of what actually exists objectively...but of how the person perceives what is happening. (Siebert, Al, PhD. The Survivor Personality. p 100-102. NY:A Perigee Book, 1996.)

A stressor can be defined as anything that throws your body out of homeostatic balance (e.g., an injury, an illness, subjection to great heat or cold). Anticipation can also serve as a stressor. (Sapolsky, Robert M., PhD. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. p 7. NY: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1994.)

The body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts their normal balance. Can occur when your expectations don’t match your perception of the event – and you don’t manage your reaction to the disappointment. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 55. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Hans Selye’s view in 1956 was that “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” Now, the most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus PhD) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. (MindTools.Com. What Stress is…Definitions.)

Depression may serve to allow the brain/body to conserve energy in times of stress. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. p 170-175. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.)

Psychologists are reporting a new phenomenon of "desk rage" with workers resorting to stand-up rows with their colleagues because of the pressure they face. Desk rage (anger) may represent low EQ behaviors. Psychologist Sue Keane of the British Psychological Society urged workers to find time for a break. It is estimated that 40 million working days are lost in the UK every year because of stress. (Health Workers at risk of Desk Rage.)

Desk rage is a sign of stress; on-the-job anger that increasingly is triggered by the pressures and tensions of the workplace. To help prevent over-reaction, Count to ten. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself the rage is about the other individual, not you. Note your own emotion but take control of it. Stay calm and collected. (Forget About Road Rage...Here Comes Desk Rage.)

DHEA is an essential hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Known as the “vitality hormone” because of its anti-aging properties, it is the body’s natural antagonist of the glucocorticoid family of hormones that includes cortisol. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 266. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Refer to Illness and Healing (below) for additional information.

Negative stress inhibits congnitive functioning and interferes with health/physiological functioning. Downshifting is one aspect of distress. p 65-67. Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. VA: ASCD, 1991.

Distress has been found to have virtually the same effect on the body as sugar. It can change the mineral relationships in the body and exhausts the endocrine glands. (Appleton, Nancy, PhD. Lick the Sugar Habit. p 138-144. NY: Avery Penguin Putnam, 1996.)

Distress erodes mental abilities and makes people less emotionally intelligent. People who are upset have trouble reading emotions accurately in other people, decreasing the most basic skill needed for empathy and, as a result, impairing their social skills. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 13-14. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

The brain’s ability to produce sufficient amounts of dopamine and serotonin can be seriously impacted by prolonged stress. (Lombard, Jay, Dr., and Dr. Christian Renna. Balance Your Brain, Balance Your life. p 265-266. NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004.)

Downshifting occurs when the individual detects threat in an immediate situation and full use of the great new cerebral brain is suspended, while faster-acting, simpler brain resources take larger roles. In a sense, the degree of downshifting will reflect the degree of threat / stress as perceived by the individual. A severe threat to one person may be of little consequence to another. (Hart, Leslie, A. Human Brain and Human Learning. p 108. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

The human brain automatically downshifts to a lower level of functioning when under stress. Information is available on her web site. (Barron, Maria Almendarez)

Fear of any type shuts down higher modes of awareness and throws the brain into an ancient survival mentality. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 12-14. VT: Park Street Press, 2002.)

The stress you may feel taking in new sights, sounds, foods, and a foreign language is actually your brain moving into high gear. (Katz, Lawrence C., PhD and Manning Rubin. Keep Your Brain Alive. p 119. NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 1999.)

Refer to Downshifting and the Brain for additional information.

The frustration related to dysgraphia can cause a great deal of stress for the person involved. (Dysgraphia or Agraphia)

Refer to Dysfunctions of the Brain for additional information.

Refer to Learning and the Brain for additional information.

Early warning signs of crisis include difficulty in making decisions, sudden outbursts of temper, reversals in usual behavior, etc.. (Conway, Jim and Sally. Women In Midlife Crisis. p 302-304. IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1971.)

Delnor Community Hospital based near Chicago was able to reduce employee turnover from 28% to 21%, saving $800,000 in less than a year through using stress management and emotional intelligence techniques. (Benefits of EQ. Compiled by Six Seconds.)

When emotionally upset, people tend not to be able to learn, remember, make decisions clearly, pay attention.... (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 148-150. NY: Bantam Books, 1995.)

Bologna, Italy study: People with higher levels of EQ tend to experience less stress. In increasingly complex jobs, EQ becomes increasingly important. Three important conclusions:

  1. Emotional intelligence predicts high performance
  2. Stress reduces performance
  3. Emotional intelligence mitigates the effects of stress

(Fariselli, Lorenzo, et al. White Paper: Stress, Emotional Intelligence, and Performance in Healthcare. 2008.)

Distress erodes mental abilities and makes people less emotionally intelligent. People who are upset have trouble reading emotions accurately in other people, decreasing the most basic skill needed for empathy and, as a result, impairing their social skills. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 13-14. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

Refer to Emotional Intelligence and the Brain for additional information.

Strong scientific evidence now indicates that emotional stress and your environment have a tremendous impact on your brain and nervous system, your health, and your ability to learn and retain information and skills. When a child or adult experiences stressors (such as anger, fear, anxiety, or frustration) the ANS, that regulates over 90% of brain-body internal functions, operates with less coherence and balance. Stressors such as anger, fear, anxiety, and frustration, leads to increased disordered incoherence in the heart’s rhythms and the Autonomic Nervous System, thereby negatively impacting the rest of the body.

Emotional stress may increase risk of cancer: directly (e.g., trigger abnormal cell development) or indirectly (e.g., reducing immune competence or surveillance). (Cousins, Norman, PhD (honorary). Head First. p 80-100. NY: Penguin Books, 1989.)

Attention can become divided among the three brain layers when person is anxious, undecided, tense, etc. Each brain layer has its own agenda so person may think one thing, feel another, and act from completely different impulses. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 32-34. VT: Park Street Press, 2002.)

Emotional stress may increase one’s risk of cancer: directly (e.g., trigger abnormal cell development) or indirectly (e.g., reducing immune competence or surveillance). (Cousins, Norman, MD (honorary). Head First. p 80-100. NY: Penguin Books, 1989.)

If a person gets caught in the middle of an unresolved issues between two others (e.g., triangling), the individual will end up with the stress in the relationship. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 18-20. The Guilford Press, 1985.)

Metally focus on your heart. It can help you regulate your emotions. Picture taking disturbed feelings into the heart and soaking them there. This won’t necessarily make the issue disappear, but it can take the density out of your cellular memory and reduce its power. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Unmanaged “negative” emotions tend to throw the nervous system out of balance, including disordered heart rhythms. In a chronic state, this puts stress on the heart and other organs that potentially lead to serious health problems. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 13-14. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Emotional stress may increase risk of cancer: directly (e.g., trigger abnormal cell development) or indirectly (e.g., reducing immune competence or surveillance). (Cousins, Norman, PhD (honorary). Head First. p 80100guin Books, 1989.)

When emotionally upset people tend not to be able to learn, remember, make decisions clearly, pay attention.... (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 148-150. Books, 1995.)

Attention can become divided among the three brain layers when person is anxious, undecided, tense, etc. Each brain layer has its own agenda so person may think one thing, feel another, and act from completely different impulses. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 32-34. VT: Park Street Press, 2002.)

Emotional stress may increase one’s risk of cancer: directly (e.g., trigger abnormal cell development) or indirectly (e.g., reducing immune competence or surveillance). (Cousins, Norman, MD (honorary). Head First. p 80-100. NY:Penguin Books, 1989.)

If a person gets caught in the middle of an unresolved issues between two others (e.g., triangling), the individual will end up with the stress in the relationship. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 18-20. NY: The Guilford Press, 1985.)

Refer to Emotions and Feelings for additional information.

Stress reactions cause the release of hormones that can be energizing and fun in the moment, but can also deplete and damage the human system in the long run. Stress reactions inhibit cortical function, and therefore clear, productive thinking. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 94. anetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Energy can be drained through stress. Stress cannot survive when you “turn on the light.” Neither can negative thoughts, words, beliefs, or feelings. (Gordon, Jon, M.A. Become an Energy Addict. p 249-250. Longstreet Press, 2003.)

Five steps for dealing with stress to help save energy:

  1. Take a time out
  2. Pretend you’re breathing through your heart
  3. Recall a positive time you’ve had and attempt to reexperience it.
  4. Ask your heart what would be a more efficient response.
  5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question.

Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 11, 53. CA:Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.

Refer to Energy and the Brain for additional information.

Study: moderate conditioned laughter and moderate conditioned exercise both help to create a state of eustress (desirable stress). Reported from an interview with Dr. Lee S. Berk. (Dunn, Joseph R., PhD, Publisher and editor. New Discoveries in Psychoneuroimmunology. p 2. & Health Letter, Vol III. No 6, Nov/Dec 1994. Mississippi.)

Studies by Berk of Loma Linda University: Beta-Endorphin and Human Growth Hormone increase are associated with both the anticipation and experience of mirthful laughter. Anticipation of a eustress (positive stress) event initiates changes in neuroendocrine response prior to the onset of the event itself. Reported April 3, 2006. (Source)

Positive stress is characterized by exhilaration and control. Negative stress is characterized by exhaustion and being out of control. Includes an assessment to rate your stress quotient. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 210-212. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

Physical exercise may be the closest thing to a wonder drug that self-control scientists have discovered. Fifteen minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings (e.g., seen when researchers try to tempt dieters with chocolate and smokers with cigarettes). According to Kelly McGonigal PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct, the long-terms effects of physical exercises are even more impressive: it relieves everyday stress; is as powerful an antidepressant as Prozac; enhances the biology of selfcontrol by increasing baseline heart rate variability and training the brain; and can increase both gray matter and white matter in the brain. There's no scientific consensus on the amounts needed, however. A 2010 analysis of ten different studies showed that the largest mood-boosting and stress-reducing effects came from five-minute doses of exercise rather than hour-long sessions. (McGonigal, Kelly, PhD.  The Willpower Instinct. p 42. NY:Avery, 2012.

Three basic types of physical activity that make you younger: general physical activity, stamina-building activities, and strength and flexibility exercises. Exercise burns energy and reduces your stress levels. (Roizen, Michael, MD. Real Age. p 211, 262. Cliff Street Books, 2000.)

Exercise can help the brain to boot up efficiently, raise serotonin levels, and decrease stress hormones levels. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 42. reer Press, 1999.)

Falsifying Type is a term used by C. J. Jung to describe a person who was using his/her brain in energy-exhausting ways. Education, understanding, empathy, emotional support, and reframing of one’s individual experience are powerful psychological tools. In the face of Falsifying Type, however, they are basically powerless because the individual spends hours and hours each day in activities that require his brain to work up to 100 times harder, and the living of life throws his body systems into distress. The only thing that can make a difference is the individual’s reowning of innate preference. (Benziger, Katherine I, PhD. Thriving in Mind. p 236. TX: KBA Publishing, 2000.)

Chronic stress is the major emotional force that keeps one’s endocrine levels abnormal for an extended period of time. Many chronic stress situations have to do with family systems. Critically important to fail to view stress in terms of the family system. The family member with obvious symptoms may simply be the individual in whom the family’s stress has surfaced. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 18-19, 86-90. NY: The Guilford Press, 1985.)

Studies: stress in children. Long-term family conflict interferes with the development of the hippocampus. A shrunken hippocampus has been linked to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 226. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Stress can be affected by a person’s position in his/her family. It is possible to handle larger amounts of stress when doing it for yourself as compared to doing it for a relationship or for a set of conflicting connections. (Fiedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 2. Te Guilford Press, 1985.

Females tend to relieve internal stress by talking about things, rehearsing, without necessarily trying to reach a solution. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 42. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Study: Students tend to feel less fear and nervousness when they are involved in their work. Sensory signals can go directly to the amygdala, the fear center, bypassing the cortex. Fear can trigger ancient survival mechanisms (downshifting). (Zull, James, E., PhD. The Art of Changing the Brain. p 60-061. VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2002.)

Studies by NIMH grantee Rita Valentino PhD: Women are twice as vulnerable as men to many stress-related disorders, such as depression and PTSD. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which acts as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, appears to be a key player. Researchers used antibodies and an electron microscope to see how the CRF receptor responds in the brains of male versus female rats — both unstressed and after exposure to a stressful swim. In the male brain under stress, many of the hormone's receptors retreated into the cell, making the brain less stress reactive. Even in the absence of any stress, the researchers found the female stress signaling system to be more sensitive from the start. (Source)

Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health may help to explain the reason females seem to have increased vulnerability to some conditions. The studies looked at the rat brain in relation to stressors. The rat brain is reportedly quite like the human brain in some respects so tends to work well with research studies, the results of which may apply to human brains. Reportedly, when the male brain is under stress, some of the receptors on the cell surface for stress hormones tend to retreat into the cell, making the brain less stress reactive. The opposite happens in the female brain. "Even in the absence of any stress, the stress-signaling system in the female brain appears to be more sensitive from the start." The receptors remain exposed on the cell surface, allowing CRF (corticotropin releasing factor) to persist in its effect. Thus, females may be more vulnerable to at least some stress-related disorders. Learning to manage stressors effectively is important for all brains. Apparently it may even be more important for a female brain. (Source)

The Relaxation Response can counteract Fight-Flight (a left-brain activity) and encourage activity in the right hemisphere, thereby improving communication between the two. (Benson, Herbert, MD, with William Proctor. Your Maximum Mind. p 31-47. NY:Avon Books, 1987.)

During the Fight-Flight Stress Response the body reacts (e.g., 300% increased blood flow to limbs, increased blood pressure, respirations, muscle tension, metabolic rate). The person’s brain waves are more intense. (Benson, Herbert, MD, with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing. p 128-130. NY: Scribner, 1996.)

Studies by Shelley E. Taylor, et al: Males are more likely to use physical aggression in struggles for power within a hierarchy or to defend territory against external enemies. Females reliably show less physical aggression than males but they display as much or more indirect aggression in the form of gossip, rumor-spreading, and enlisting the cooperation of a third party in undermining an acquaintance. When confronted with acute stress, both males and females may initiate a fight-flight response. Behaviorally, however, females appear to move rather quickly to a tend-befriend pattern. Tending involves nurturing activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process. (Source)

Chronic anger and resentment ages a person quickly. Studies: Those who showed the most forgiveness had lower heart rate, lower blood pressure levels, and less reactivity to stress. (O’Brien, Mary, MD. Successful Aging. p 133-135. CA:Biomed General. 2007.)

Recognize stressful feelings and take a time out (freeze-frame it). This can strengthen your immune system. You can maintain a coherent, healthy inner environment so your body can save energy. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 11, 53.) CA: Planetary Publications, 1194, 1998.)

Hardiness. Successful individuals usually have a resilient mindset. Lists 10 characteristics of a resilient mindset including an ability to fortify one’s stress hardiness. p 2-4, Brooks, Robert, PhD, and Sam Goldstein, PhD. The Power of Resilience. NY: Contemporary Books, McGraw Hill, 2004.

Hardiness. People who are have hardiness characteristics tend to handle stress better and can remain healthy. Hardiness involves a set of beliefs about oneself and the world, and how the two interact. Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.

Studies by NIMH grantee Rita Valentino PhD: Women are twice as vulnerable as men to many stress-related disorders, such as depression and PTSD. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which acts as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, appears to be a key player. Researchers used antibodies and an electron microscope to see how the CRF receptor responds in the brains of male versus female rats — both unstressed and after exposure to a stressful swim. In the male brain under stress, many of the hormone's receptors retreated into the cell, making the brain less stress reactive. Even in the absence of any stress, the researchers found the female stress signaling system to be more sensitive from the start. (Source)

Babies can be born already stressed plus be experiencing toxins from maternal stress. A child who had a stressful pregnancy may require higher levels of stress in order to activate cortisol. Such children sometimes do things at the last minute (e.g., frantically doing homework on the way to school) trying to activate cortisol. (Borkin, Michael, PhD. Sabre Sciences, Inc(TM). Lecture, January 2014)

Hardiness, characterized by a sense of appropriate control (belief they can impact a situation by way in which they view it), is a quality exhibited by people who tend to stay healthy even while under stress. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 475-480. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Dr. Suzanne Kobasa and colleagues studied business exectives and lawyers. They found that those with a great deal of life stress could be protected from physical illness by a combination of three attitudes:

  1. Commitment - an attitude of curiosity and involvement in whatever is happening
  2. Control - the belief that they can infoluence events, coupled with a willing to act on that belief rather than be a victim of circumstances (the opposite of helplessness)
  3. Challenge - the belief that lifes changes stimulate personal growth instead of threatening the status quo

(Borysenko, Joan, PhD. Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. p 23-26. NY: A Bantam Book, 1988.)

Ingredients of hardiness include: positive expectations, relaxation strategies, positive emotions, and taking an active role. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for The Brain. p 385-386. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

The ingredients of psychological hardiness (seen in people who handle stress more effectively) include: commitment, control, and challenge. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. p 6-8. PA: Rodale Press, 1992.)

Stress hardiness can be developed. Taking action where required and surrendering when no further action is possible--these are the two paths to stress hardiness. (Borysenko, Joan, PhD. Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. p 36-40. NY: A Bantam Book, 1988.)

A stressed and stressful brain can cause strain and even tearing to the heart – the most powerful muscle in the human body. (Pearsall, Paul, PhD. The Heart’s Code. p 26. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

The root cause of a lot of social stresses is the inner violence created by dysfunctional communication between the heart and the mind. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 112. CA: Planetary Publications, 1194, 1998.)

Metally focus on your heart. It can help you regulate your emotions. Picture taking disturbed feelings into the heart and soaking them there. This won’t necessarily make the issue disappear, but it can take the density out of your cellular memory and reduce its power. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Study: childhood stress may suppress growth hormones and interfere with height (e.g., girls from troubles homes grow up to be smaller women). (Blum, Deborah. Sex on the Brain. p 21-24. NY: Penguin Books, 1997.)

PET Scan studies: right hemisphere is more activated when the learner is feeling depressed or stressed. Left Hemisphere is more engaged when learner is experiencing a healthy optimism about life and the future. (18, Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

PET scan studies: Activation of the left prefrontal cortex (but not the right) dampened negative attitudes and responses by inhibiting activity in the amygdale. A positive mental attitude can be effective in enhancing left prefrontal activation. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 118-119. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Refer to Cerebral Hemispheres (under Brain Function) for additional information.

The hippocampus, essential for memory formation and emotional control, is the very first brain structure damaged by the neurochemicals of anger, anxiety, and stress. (Newberg, Andrew, MD., and Mark Robert Waldman. p 208-209. NY: Random House Inc, 2009.)

Most homosexual orientation develops during gestation. Patterns tend to be firmly in place by age 5. Discusses lack of success of change therapies (e.g., push bisexuals to confine behaviors to opposite sex only, or enforce celibacy, or push the individuals to attempt suicide). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps. p 171-186. NY:Broadway Books, 1998.)

The trauma of growing up gay in a world that is run primarily by straight men is deeply wounding in a unique and profound way. Straight men have other issues and struggles that are no less wounding, but they are quite different from those of a gay man. ( Downs, Alan, PhD. The Velvet Rage. Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. p 5-6. NY:Da Capo Press, 2005. 2006.)

Refer to Sexual Orientation and the Brain for additional information.

The physical constriction that accompanies stress disrupts hormonal and peptide flows. Reducing stress levels is not merely a means of obtaining temporary relief from a busy day; it is indispensable to a healthy bodymind. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind, (Audio Cassettes) CO: Sounds True, 2000.)

Stress reactions cause the release of hormones that can be energizing and fun in the moment, but can also deplete and damage the human system in the long run. Stress reactions inhibit cortical function, and therefore clear, productive thinking. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 94. anetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Refer to Laughter and Humor (below).

Stress is listed as a common thread that links problems together for more than 60 million American woman. Complaints usually fall into one or more of three major areas: Fatigue, low sex drive, weight gain. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p xii-3. NY: Vantage Press, 2001.)

Studies: Sustained stress during the first months of pregnancy may correlated with the development of hyperactivity in the child after birth. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 62. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Noradrenaline levels of children (after release from compound in Waco) were abnormally high, “a chemical signature of post traumatic stress disorder.” (Another way of describing a push toward introversion due to extreme stress.) (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 163-164. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Study: individuals were more likely to develop symptoms of illness after exposure to a cold virus if they had experienced stressful life events during the prior 12 months. Susceptibility to colds appears to be increased (e.g., 15% higher) by stressful life events. (Gilbert, Gary, MD. Is a Merry Heart like a Placebo? p 36-43. WA: Spectrum, Vol 26, No. 4, January 1998.)

Susceptibility to the common cold is increased when the individual is experiencing stress. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 550-560. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Researchers at Fort Dietrich in Maryland screened a large group of patients for depression, before the coming influenza epidemic hit. Then, every one who got the flu was brought back to the clinic 3 and 6 weeks later, to see whether or not they got well in the expected length of time. Those still sick with influenza at six weeks were largely those who were depressed before their exposure to the flu virus. (Smith, N. Lee, MD. Stress and the Common Cold. Meridian Magazine, 2003.)

Stress prevents the molecules of emotion from flowing freely and can upset the normal healing process. The largely autonomic processes (e.g., breathing, blood flow, immunity, digestion, elimination) are regulated by peptide flow. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 242-244. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

Studies: 76%-90% of all doctor visits in the US are for stress-related disorders As much as 80% of all disease and illness in the US is initiated or aggravated by stress. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p xvi-xvii. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Studies of stress, illness, and depression: almost 50% of migraine sufferers, 70% of patients with fibromyalgia, and about half of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome also suffer from some degree of depression. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. p 32. NY:Vantage Press, 2001.)

Stress stimulates the release of the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Unchecked, chronic stress—along with attitudes like hostility, anger, and depression—can lead to sickness and death. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

For physical symptoms to become manifest there must also be some emotional component present. The way you think (mind-body connection) may minimize the dangers of getting sick and/or maximize recovery. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 124-130. NY:The Guilford Press, 1985.)

Disease-related stress as an information overload, a condition in which the mind-body network is so taxed by unprocessed sensory input in the form of suppressed trauma or undigested emotions that it has become bogged down and cannot flow freely, sometimes even working against itself, at cross-purposes. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 242-243. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

Stress and disease are connected. Stress plays a large role in the development of disease. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 242. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.)

About 80% of physician office visits are from patients who are experiencing stress (e.g., unresolved issues of anger and fear). Perhaps as much as 85% of illness and disease is not only associated with stress but also is causally linked. (Seaward, Brian Luke. Achieving the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection: A Stress Management Workbook. p 10. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc, 2004.)

Studies at Ohio State University: A 30-minute argument creates enough stress to slow wound healing by a day. Potentially “minimizing stress before surgery could speed the healing process, shorten length of stay, and reduce costs.” (Archives of General Psychiatry, 12 / 2005.

Stress is costly to one’s health. American Institute of Stress estimate 75-90% of all visits to health-care providers result from stress-related disorders. Holmes-Rahe Scale of life changes and stress points (old scale). (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 41. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

The immune system may be affected by any kind of emotion, negative or positive. In happiness and intense sadness, there was an increase in killer cells within 20 minutes. Response to long-term sadness and stress has a different profile. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 6. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Excess adrenaline and cortisol released during stress can cause the immune system to shut down. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 2-3. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Study: One 5-minute episode of mentally and emotionally recalling an experience of anger caused an immediate short-term rise in IgA, followed by a severe depletion that took the body more than six hours to restore. One 5-minute episode of experiencing compassion caused a 34% rise in IgA, followed by a return to normal baseline. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 41-43. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Five steps for dealing with stress to help strengthen immune system function:

  1. Take a time out
  2. Pretend you’re breathing through your heart
  3. Recall a positive time you’ve had and attempt to reexperience it.
  4. Ask your heart what would be a more efficient response.
  5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question.

Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 11, 53. CA:Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.

Studies: Stress weakened the immune system for one day; having a good time with pleasurable events boosted it for two days. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 14-20. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.)

Part of the immune system can become depressed during periods of distress (e.g., academic examinations, social isolation or loneliness). (Appleton, Nancy, PhD. Lick the Sugar Habit. p 56-57. NY: Avery Penguin Putnam, 1996.)

Stress can decrease the ability of the immune system to produce and maintain lymphocytes and natural killer cells. It can decrease numbers of circulating B cells, T cells, helper T cells, and etc. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 70-72. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.)

Stress, both emotional and physical, greatly depletes the immune system. Greatest stress is generated by denying the authentic self (e.g., life energy is being diverted; compromised mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically). (McGraw, Phillip C., PhD. Self Matters. p 17-18, 33-34. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Refer to Immune System and the Brain for additional information.

Incompatibility in marriage/relationships may have more to do with factors that are causing differences to surface or at any given time. All differences stand out more at times of stress. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. p 67-70. NY: The Guilford Press, 1985.)

High stress levels during infancy and early childhood can lead to the poor development of communication zones in brain cells – a condition found in mental disorders such as autism, depression, and mental retardation. A key messenger for stress, the neuropeptide CRH, can inhibit the normal growth of dendrites. (Early life stress can inhibit development of brain-cell communication zones, UCI study finds.)

There is no stress in any situation until the person feels strain, and this is different for every brain. The distress felt is not the result of what actually exists objectively in the job, but of how the person perceives what is happening. (Siebert, Al, PhD. The Survivor Personality. p 100-102. NY:A Perigee Book, 1996.)

Job stress has become “the 20th century disease” and is considered a global epidemic. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p xvii. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Studies: 46% of all American workers find their jobs highly stressful. Less than half of those who responded to the poll said they were in the career/job path they had planned. May try to compensate with alcohol and drugs. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 81, 90-92. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Job-related stress is a global epidemic. It is has become the 20th century disease. The number of workers reporting high stress has doubled since 1985. In Japan Karoshi—death from overwork—kills approximately 30,000 workers every year. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame — One Minute Stress Management. p xvi-xvii . CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

The more stressful a situation is, the more important it is to laugh at it. (Beck, Martha, PhD. The Joy Diet. p 154-156. NY: Crown Publishers, 2003.)

Refer to Laughter and the Brain for additional information.

Studies by Berk of Loma Linda University: Mirthful laughter can offset symptoms of chronic stress by diminishing secretion of cortisol and epinephrine while enhancing immune reactivity. Physiological effects of a single one-hour view of a humorous video have appeared to last up to 12-24 hours in some individuals. (Reported April 3, 2006. Berk, Lee S. PhD. Paper presented in an American Physiological Society session at Experimental Biology, 2006.)

Humor builds comraderie among men and can ease relationship tensions. (Tanenbaum, Joe. Male & Female Realities. p 152-154. NV: Robert Erdmann Publishing, 1990.)

Laughter appears to reduce levels of certain stress hormones (that suppress the immune system, increase platelet levels in arteries, and raise blood pressure). Laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that come into play in times of stress, rage or hostility. (Bartekian, Vatche. Laughter Can Cure What Ails You. Ask Men website.)

Laughter produces responses almost identical to those associated with progressive muscle relaxation, a stress-relief technique. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 101-120. NY:Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Studies: Levels of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol) were lowered after subjects watched an hour of comic entertainment. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD, and David Sobel, MD. Healthy Pleasures. p 217-219. MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1989.)

Lists three strategies that he says are the very best at reducing stress: humor, smiles, and laughter. (Benson, Herbert, MD, with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing. p 277-278. NY: Scribner, 1996.)

Study of watching a 60-minute humorous video: Mirthful laughter experience appears to reduce serum levels of cortisol, dopac, epinephrine, and growth hormone. These biochemical changes have implications for the reversal of the neuroendocrine and classical stress hormone response. (Berk, L. S,, PhD, et al. Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. Am J Med Sci. 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6.)

Studies: Humor helps alleviate the effects of stress. In fact, people with a good sense of humor are less likely to get stressed to begin with. Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind Body Health. p 547. NY:Allyn and Bacon, 1996.)

Humor Individuals who like and use humor regularly tend to be less likely to experience distress when dealing with negative life events. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD, and David Sobel, MD. Healthy Pleasures. p 217-219. MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1989.)

Humor Reports that people who have a good sense of humor are impacted less significantly by stress, and that they show little change in immune function. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 541-550. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Refer to Laughter and the Brain for additional information.

Studies of 64 college students: the way people learn to respond to stress can influence whether they will have high blood pressure, just like mom or dad. In stressful situations, students with a family history of hypertension had an increase in blood pressure, tended to roll their eyes, sigh, and make more disagreeing statements than the control group. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology as reported in Vibrant Life. p 5. MD:Review and Herald Publishing Association, Sept/Oct, 2002.)

Threat pervades most educational settings but that is in direct opposition to cerebral learning. The concept of downshifting appears to fit with both what is now known about the triune nature of the human brain, and what can continually be seen happening in instructional settings and in daily living. A brain shut down by threat equals learning failure. The neocortex functions fully only when one feels secure. (Hart, Leslie A. Human Brain and Human Learning. p 110. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

Severe stress during the first three or four years of life can actually impair learning centers in the brain, which can damage the individual’s intellect. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 193-195, 176. NY: Bantam Books, 1995.)

Studies: stress in children. Long-term family conflict interferes with the development of the hippocampus. A shrunken hippocampus has been linked to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 226. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

When emotionally upset people tend not to be able to learn, remember, make decisions clearly, pay attention.... (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 148-150. Books, 1995.)

Refer to Learning and the Brain for additional information.

The limbic system is an open-loop system and depends largely on connections with other people for its own emotional stability. Research in ICUs: the comforting presence of another person lowers BP and slows secretion of fatty acids that block arteries. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 6-8. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

Ignoring who you authentically are can kill you. Forcing yourself to be someone you are not is incredibly taxing. It will shorten your life by years and years (e.g., fourteen years can be subtracted from your expectancy by living this type of prolonged stress). (McGraw, Phillip C, PhD. Self Matters. p 17-18. NY: Simon & Schuster Source, 2001.)

Stress-induced illness comes only from the things that stress YOU, even if they don’t seem to be the things that stress other people. Reducing stress in your life can give back thirty of the thirty-two years that major life events can take away. The relationship between stress and aging is marked. The faster you rev your body, the more quickly you age. Chronic stress alters immune responses. (Rozen, Michael F, MD. Real Age. p 259-260. NY: Cliff Street Books, 2000.)

Animal Studies: Love influences a baby animal’s weight gain, learning behavior, emotional reactions, and the ability to respond to stress. Animals raised without the requisite love have a weakened immune system and a weakened ability to respond appropriately to stressors. (Fox, Arnold, MD, and Barry Fox, PhD. Wake Up! You’re Alive! p 85. Health Communications, 1988.)

A person under stress usually has a squeakier voice, and speech may increase in speed and volume. Studies show 70% of people increase pitch when lying. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 272-274. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Being under stress appears to increase the differences in how men and women think about risk? When men are under stress, they become even more willing to take risks; when women are stressed, they tend to become more conservative about risk. Mather links this to other research that finds, at difficult times, men are inclined toward fight-or-flight responses, while women try to bond more and improve their relationships. According to Mather, coauthor of an article reported in Current Directions in Psychological Science, it seems likely that how much stress you're experiencing will affect the way in which you make decisions. [Source]

Our culture (American) causes a great deal of stress on males during mid-life. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. p 27, 45. IL: David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Levels of stress hormones are higher in males who are at the lower end of the pecking order. This may not be as true for females. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 48-50. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Males tend to relieve internal stress by disengaging the brain and thinking about something else (e.g., go for a drink with another man where they don’t have to talk much or talk about sports and cars). (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 112-114. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

There is evidence that, following a traumatic experience or period of serious stress, the male brain doesn’t return to stability and learning readiness as quickly as does the female brain. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 80-82. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Males seem to react more sensitively to stress than women at every age. Men tend to block out signs of stress (out of touch with their bodies), while women are more aware of them. (Goldberg, Herb, PhD. The Hazards of Being Male. p 111-113. NY: Nash Publishing, 1976.)

Humor builds camaraderie among men and can ease relationship tensions. (Tanenbaum, Joe. Male & Female Realities. p 152-154. NV: Robert Erdmann Publishing, 1990.)

Studies: massage helped children with autism, diabetes, asthma, cancer, and arthritis. Neuropeptides (e.g., endorphins) released in the brain from touch receptors in the skin, send positive healing messages to the brain. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. p 6-10. NY: Warner Books, 2004.)

Some studies suggest that reducing stress levels through meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy can slow the progress of AIDS. Trust in God may work through the same pathway. (Marchant, Jo. Cure. P 223-224. NY:Crown Publishers, 2016.)

Meditation, by allowing long-buried thoughts and feelings to surface, is a way of getting the peptides flowing again, returning the body, and the emotions, to health. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 242-243. NY: Scribner, 1997.)

The effects of meditation on brain function has been especially well studied: enhances brain-neuron function, decrease blood levels of lactate (associated with anxiety and insomnia), increases levels of DHEA (a marker of brain vitality), and decreases blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DeGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 45, 236. NJ: Career Press, 1999.)

Meditation can boost the immune system and serve as a stress reducer. (Bricklin, Mark, Mark Golin, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 218. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

Melatonin is the principal hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and regulates many neuroendocrine functions. The maximum amount of melatonin released in the bloodstream of the elderly is only half of that in young adults. Rat studies of rats found that is was able to reduce some aspects of stress. (Dean, Ward, M.D., and John Morgenthaler and Steven Wm. Fowkes. Smart Drugs II, Melatonin Chapter. Smart Publications. 2000.)

Refer to Sleep and the Brain for additional information.

Unconscious memories are particularly likely to be formed during stressful events because the hormones and neurotransmitters released at such times make the amygdalae more excitable. They also affect the processing of conscious memories. (Carter, Rita, Ed. Mapping the Mind. p 95. CA: University of California Press, 1998.)

Memories are affected by stress. Studies at Yale concluded that the neuropeptides and neurotransmitters released during stress can alter the functioning of areas of the brain directly involved with memory formation and recall. This may interfere with the laying down of memory traces for incidents of childhood abuse, and may possibly lead to long-term distortions for the facts, or even amnesia. (Bremner, J.D., et al. Neural mechanisms in dissociative amnesia for childhood abuse. American Journal of Psychiatry 13 (7 supplement): 71-82, 1996. Schacter, D., (ed.) Cognitive Psychology of False Memories:  A Special Issue of the Journal Cognitive Neuropsychology. London: Taylor and Francis, 1999)

Psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have figured out how stress interferes with one’s ability to pay attention, focus, and create working memory. Working memory is both short-term (seconds) and flexible, allowing the brain to hold a large amount of information close at hand to perform complex tasks. Without it, you would have forgotten the first half of this sentence while reading the second half. They watched neurons functioning in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, part of the brain that is vital to working memory. The neurons communicated on a scale of every thousandth of a second. In addition, they knew what they did one second to one-and-a-half seconds ago. In the presence of a stressor, however, while the neurons became even more active, they were reacting to other things and failed to retain information about what they did a second or so ago. The conclusion was that stress-related impairment of this mechanism is believed to contribute to the cognition-impairing actions of stress. (http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002681)

Studies: stress in children. Long-term family conflict interferes with the development of the hippocampus. A shrunken hippocampus has been linked to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 226. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

David Devilbiss, a scientist and lead author on a study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, there are dangers of stress-related distraction.“The literature tells us that stress plays a role in more than half of all workplace accidents, and a lot of people have to work under what we would consider a great deal of stress,” Devilbiss said. “Air traffic controllers need to concentrate and focus with a lot riding on their actions. People in the military have to carry out these thought processes in conditions that would be very distracting, and now we know that this distraction is happening at the level of individual cells in the brain.” Recent studies have demonstrated that rather than suppressing activity, stress modifies the nature of neuron activity. “Treatments that keep neurons on their self-stimulating task while shutting out distractions may help protect working memory.” (http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-stress-blocks-short-term-memory?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e7af87468f-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email)

Refer to Memory and the Brain for additional information.

A major emotional stress of “Who am I?” tends to occur in the lives of women during their forties. A second major stress in a woman’s life is menopause, around ages 48-53. (Conway, Jim. Men in Midlife Crisis. p 159-166. IL: David C. Cook Publishing, 1978, 1980.)

Research has shown that it’s the daily accumulation of little stresses that take more of atoll on your health than the major stressful events in life. How drained you are from the daily stresses also determines how much resilience you have when a real crisis occurs. (Childre, Doc. Freeze Frame. p 8. CA: Planetary Publications, 1994, 1998.)

Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues conducted four studies to evaluate the effects of heavy computer and cell phone by young adults on sleep quality, stress levels, and general mental health. The studies found that young adults who make particularly heavy use of mobile phones and computers run a greater risk of sleep disturbances, stress, and symptoms of mental health. Heavy use of mobile phones was linked to an increase in sleeping problems in males and an increase in depressive symptoms in both males and females. (http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/28245  University of Gothenburg. "Intensive mobile phone use affects young people's sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611134233.htm. Accessed 7-16).

Studies by Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have shown links between frequent computer use without breaks and late at night and health problems.

  • Frequent computer use without breaks was found to increase the risk of stress, sleeping problems, and depressive symptoms in women
  • Males who use computers extensively without breaks were more likely to develop sleeping problems.

Regularly using a computer late at night was associated not only with sleep disorders but also with stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-volpi-md-pc-facs/technology-depression_b_1723625.html. Accessed 7-16).

Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues conducted four studies to evaluate the effects of heavy computer and cell phone by young adults on sleep quality, stress levels, and general mental health. The studies found that young adults who make particularly heavy use of mobile phones and computers run a greater risk of sleep disturbances, stress, and symptoms of mental health. Heavy use of mobile phones was linked to an increase in sleeping problems in males and an increase in depressive symptoms in both males and females. (http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/28245  University of Gothenburg. "Intensive mobile phone use affects young people's sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611134233.htm. Accessed 7-16).

Studies by Sara Thomée, doctoral student, and colleagues at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have shown links between frequent computer use without breaks and late at night and health problems.

  • Frequent computer use without breaks was found to increase the risk of stress, sleeping problems, and depressive symptoms in women
  • Males who use computers extensively without breaks were more likely to develop sleeping problems.

Regularly using a computer late at night was associated not only with sleep disorders but also with stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-volpi-md-pc-facs/technology-depression_b_1723625.html. Accessed 7-16).

Under conditions of continuous stress, internal motivation becomes more and more difficult to generate as people see themselves as fulfilling only goals formed by others. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 656-659. 745. GA: Bard Press, 2000)

Studies: having to shift concepts, intention, and focus to many different tasks, many times an hour, creates more stress than any other stressor. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 51. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Studies: listening to music can improve mood and reduce stress levels. For surgeons, listening to music can reduce fatigue and increase concentration, speed, and accuracy. (Edell, Dean, MD. Eat, Drink & Be Merry. p 128-129. NY: HarperCollins, 1999.)

The link between music and athletic performance is just one example of the amazing power that music has over mind and body. Music can reduce pain and stress, strengthen the brain, and alter how one experiences life. Generally speaking, loud upbeat music has a stimulating effect and slow music reduces arousal. (Lloyd, Robert. Understanding the Power of Music. Science shows that music really does kill pain and reduce stress.)

Refer to Music and the Brain for additional information.

Negative thinking and pessimism affect the body just as stress does. Pessimism triggers a fall in catecholamines, which triggers endorphins, which suppresses immune system function. (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 502-504. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Stanford studies: chronic stress can cause neurons to lose their dendritic branches and eventually die off completely with symptoms such as poor memory, fuzzy thinking, and lack of creativity. ( Diamond, Marian, PhD, and Janet Hopson. Magic Trees of the Mind. p 80-82. NY: A Dutton Book 1998.)

Becoming more “neutral” may be the best you can do if the situation is extremely stressful and emotionally charged. “Hang loose in neutral” until the fog clears and you can see more clearly. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 79-81. CA:Harper SF, 1999.)

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