The emotional stress category

The Impact of Cognitive Stress

The category of mental stress was significant in my findings graph. Other facets of living are significantly impacted by cognitive stress. People who are under stress, for instance, experience personality changes that affect their behavioral habits. (Kumar, Rinwa, Kaur, & Machawal, 2013). Such individuals experience emotional distress, which shows in their hostility, irritability, apathy, etc. Their actions might also alter, leading to things like loneliness and bad working relationships. Cognitive stress has a significant effect on other categories because it permeates all facets of a person's life.

The Effects of Acute and Ongoing Worry on the Brain

The effects of acute and ongoing worry on the brain vary. In times of extreme duress, hippocampal cells are more active than usual. ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). The brain releases dopamine which promotes the pleasure feelings and helps to keep us alert and stimulated. ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). Stimulation is a form of moderate and transient stress. Chronic stress, on the other hand, alters the functioning of the cells of the hippocampus ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). Under chronic stress, these cells are damaged. Moreover, there is little or no cell turnover in the hippocampus under chronic stress. The death of hippocampal cells occurs in severe and prolonged stressful conditions. The volume of the hippocampus also shrinks under chronic stress. Consequently, an individual's learning and memory are usually disrupted. Besides, chronic stress causes a reduction in dopamine release in the reward pathway of the brain ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). As a result, the person suffers from blunted pleasure and which further aggravates their risk of depression. Neurotransmitters which help the body to counter stress include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

The Role of the Hippocampus in Stress

The hippocampus is a structure in the brain which is a constituent of the limbic system (Eisch, & Petrik, 2012). It is found in the temporal lobe of the brain. It is primarily associated with long term memory storage in addition to emotional responses. Neurogenesis in the hippocampus allows for the generation of new neurons from precursor progenitor neurons cells (Eisch, & Petrik, 2012). It offers a form of plasticity to the neural circuits. Hippocampal neurogenesis is helpful in enhancing an individual’s resilience to stress (Eisch, & Petrik, 2012). Studies show that early life stress is associated with altered hippocampal neurogenesis which further determines how one responds to stress in the adult life (Eisch, & Petrik, 2012). Moreover, chronic stress in the adult life decreases hippocampal neurogenesis.

The Effects of Stress on the Prefrontal Cortex and Amygdala

Besides affecting the hippocampus, stress also has profound effects on the amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotions’ regulation, decision making, and memory ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). The excess cortisol produced during chronic stress causing it to shrink. It leads to problems such as poor decision making, forgetfulness, and poor impulse control. The amygdala is the brain’s fear and anxiety center. Stress causes hyperactivity, increased size and neural connections in the amygdala ("How does the brain handle long-term stress? -", 2017). Consequently, stressed individuals suffer from unwarranted fear and anxiety.

The Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain

Children who are subjected to abusive mothers fail to develop the part of the brain which is responsible for fear and aversive conditioning ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). It is for this reason that children who are abused and neglected in their earlier life often end up marrying abusive spouses. Children who are exposed to chronic stress for instance in the form of inconsistent parenting and chaotic homes are also predisposed to impaired development of their self-regulation skills ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). Poor self-regulation results may cause them to indulge in substance abuse, have poor decision-making skills, poor emotional intelligence and an early onset of sexual behaviors ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). Moreover, they have also been shown to suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem. Chronic stress is also associated with biochemical changes which can prompt one into unhealthy eating habits which eventually leads to obesity. Ultimately, obesity leads to diabetes.

The Importance of Supportive Parental Care

Consistent provision of supportive parental care is a critical determinant of brain development. The author notes that the type of childhood experiences that one had in their early life has a profound impact on their brain and body health as well as their lifelong behaviors ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). Maternal anxiety can be passed down to their offspring and is an important predisposing factor for diabetes which eventually affects the developing brain. Abuse and neglect deter cognitive development ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). Children who are not stimulated verbally have impaired language development. A supportive environment is essential in fostering positive development. Our ability to handle stressful situations depends on whether we possess the "reactive" or the "less reactive" alleles. Individuals who possess the "reactive" alleles are termed as "orchids" while those with the less reactive alleles are regarded as "dandelions” ("Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain -," 2017). The two different alleles offer varying phenomenal adaptability. "Orchid children" are more vulnerable to child abuse and neglect. However, in a nurturing environment, "orchids" turn out to be successful people in society. "Dandelions" have "resilient" genes which confer them the ability to survive well in any environment regardless of their upbringing.


Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain - (2017). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Eisch, A. J., & Petrik, D. (2012). Depression and hippocampal neurogenesis: a road to remission?. Science, 338(6103), 72-75.

How does the brain handle long-term stress? - (2017). Retrieved 17 August 2017, from

Kumar, A., Rinwa, P., Kaur, G., & Machawal, L. (2013). Stress: Neurobiology, consequences, and management. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences, 5(2), 91.

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