Stress, in the right context, is an incredibly helpful tool for humans. It’s helped us to survive as long as we have. Stress is basically a reaction to any demand or challenge that is presented to your brain. Your brain triggers the release of a chemical called cortisol, which sets off the fight-or-flight response in your body. For those who haven’t heard of fight-or-flight, it increases your heart rate to get your muscles the blood they need, increases your focus, and releases adrenaline in your body to give you the extra edge you need in order to deal with the stressor. Ultimately, this response can help us survive dangerous situations or perform better in situations where performance is critical. However, when you are stressed out frequently and over long periods of time, it can have negative effects on your brain. NeurOptimize has a number of locations across northern Colorado, contact us today for questions and help with stress.

Young businessman under stress with headache

Long-Term Effects Of Stress On Your Brain

Over time, having high amounts of cortisol can start retraining the brain in negative ways. The stress itself typically isn’t what’s bad for the brain, but the over-abundance of cortisol in the brain from consistent and long-term stressors are what end up causing harm. There are a plethora of adverse effects from frequent and long-term cortisol build up.

Stress can play a part in retraining the brain.

Over time, too much cortisol makes it so that different parts of your brain actually increase or decrease in size. Chronic stress has been shown to decrease the overall size of the brain, more specifically in the prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is responsible for functions like self-control and emotion. Having reduced self-control and emotion potentially make you more likely to develop a behavioral disorder like depression, anxiety, or other mental health care concerns.

Your amygdala is what is responsible for initiating the stress reaction from the body. The amygdala can actually increase in size with chronic stress, making you even more susceptible to stress. This nasty chain reaction can ultimately lead to you always being in fight-or-flight mode. This is not only exhausting, but can lead to higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or other physical health concerns.

Neurofeedback is a method commonly used to treat stress, anxiety, and similar conditions. If you are in the northern Colorado area and are seeking mental health care, reach out to NeurOptimize today. We are experts in neurofeedback treatment options.

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your brain.

Long-term stress makes it so instead of your brain producing cells that create neurons and neural pathways, those cells are repurposed to create more myelin creating cells. Myelin is a layer that surrounds pathways in the brain to speed up communication. Initially, this might sound fine. But, when resources that normally make neurons are diverted to create another resource, this leads to fewer neurons. Fewer neurons being created helps to explain the link between stress and reduced memory and learning capabilities.

Mental health care is incredibly important to your overall well being. Make sure you are getting the right help if you or someone you know is consistently stressed. Long-term stress has well-researched and known negative effects on the brain, so don’t wait until it becomes a problem. If you are looking for mental health care in northern Colorado, visit us at to schedule an appointment.