The Impact of Stress on Your Brain


The Impact of Stress on Your Brain

Published On: May 11, 2015

Craving Cranial Grey Matter!

Now who is this person and who stole my baby? What parent hasn’t frozen in disbelief while feeling the rage of their teenager? “It seems like just yesterday that we were in the birthing room,over the moon with excitement for this new little girl that was gifted to us.” Who would have thought that chronic stress and teenagers have a lot in common!

Where Does Stress Come From?

The birthplace of inescapable stress is not unlike the beautiful gift of a baby that now turns on you. Stress comes from a good place, a loving motive and wishing for all things good. It begins with hormones, genetics and environment all to help us be safe and secure. Psychological theory postulates that physiological mechanisms are in place to maintain personality structure and secure sustainable life. The ultimate training ground for our brain is in the ebb and flow of stress. Stress is experienced from within, but is created by our culture, experiences, relationships and our unmet needs. Stress is created by conscious and unconscious landscapes of the brain and mediated through the release of glucocorticides along with dopamine and serotonin neurons that all come to defend the over loaded brain. The normal healthy human experience is made up of ‘Stress Tides’ that rush in and out to the rhythm of high and low tides like ocean tides. When the brain becomes stressed it intervenes through the release of glucocorticides along with dopamine and serotonin neurons that all come to defend the over loaded brain.

Impact of Stress on the Brain

Some studies suggest that when we experience inescapable stress (sometimes called PTSD) it can produce a craving landscape that makes us vulnerable to addictive behaviours, partly due to the fact that the over loaded brain cannot keep up producing enough stress reducing serotonin. This increases the sensitivity of the nucleus accumbens often creating a craving brain. It is no wonder we unconsciously try and help the brain by alcohol or other mood altering behaviours. If your brain is under more and more stress like constant high tides . . . we call that in the physical world flooding. As floods can be disastrous to our homes, landscapes and security, so over stressed lifestyles leave a path of destruction in its wake. The brain begins to lose it’s ability to refresh. Counselling has shown that we can help the brain recalibrate the tides through awareness training, cognitive behavioural therapy and lifestyle changes. The good news is the brain has wonderful plasticity and will make adjustments when consistent adjustments are made.

How to Reduce Stress

So when it comes to our ability to relax, recover and refresh it is not just about having some fun or being lazy. It is a matter of serious mental health practice. We all need to sleep well, love well, forgive easier, eat and drink moderately, exercise consistently and don’t take ourselves too seriously. So you see your gray matter . . . matters!

Kim Christink

Director of the Bayridge Counselling Centres

Focus: Couple Therapy, Individual Therapy, Family Therapy, Corporate Coaching, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

For more information, visit us at any of our Counselling Centers in Burlington, Brampton, Hamilton, Grimsby, Mississauga, Muskoka, Oakville, St. Catharines and Kitchener/Waterloo.