Some types of stress may be beneficial for brain function!

Amman Today

publish date 2022-07-30 08:29:37

A new study finds that low to moderate levels of stress can help develop resilience and reduce the risk of mental health disorders, such as depression and antisocial behaviours.

Low to moderate stress can also help individuals deal with stressful encounters in the future, researchers from the University of Georgia Institute of Youth Development report, in the study published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

“If you are in an environment with a certain level of stress, you can develop coping mechanisms that allow you to become a more efficient and effective employee and organize yourself in a way that helps you perform,” said Assaf Oshri, lead author of the study and associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The stress of studying for an exam, preparing for a big meeting at work, or taking longer hours to close a deal can all lead to personal growth. An expulsion may prompt someone to reconsider their strengths and whether they should stay in their field or engage in something new. But the line between a low to moderate amount of stress and a lot of stress is a fine line.

Oshri suggested that good stress may act as a “vaccine” against the impact of future adversities.

The researchers relied on data from the Human Connectome Project, a national project funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to provide insight into how the human brain works.

In this study, researchers analyzed project data for more than 1,200 young adults who reported their perceived stress levels using a questionnaire commonly used in research to measure how stressed people find their lives out of control.

Participants answered questions about how often they experienced certain thoughts or feelings, such as: “How often, in the last month, have you been upset by something that happened unexpectedly?” and “How many times, in the last month, have you found that you couldn’t handle all the things you had to do?”

Their neurocognitive abilities were then assessed using tests that measured attention, the ability to suppress automatic responses to visual stimuli, cognitive flexibility, or the ability to switch between tasks, image sequence memory, which includes remembering an increasingly long sequence of things, working memory and processing speed.

The researchers compared these results to participants’ responses to multiple measures of anxiety, attention problems, and aggression, among other behavioral and emotional problems.

The analysis found that low to moderate levels of stress were psychologically beneficial, potentially serving as a kind of vaccination against mental health symptoms.

“Most of us have had some negative experiences that actually make us stronger,” Oshri explained. “There are specific experiences that can help you develop skills that will prepare you for the future.”

But the ability to withstand stress and adversity varies greatly according to the individual. Factors such as age, genetic predisposition, and the presence of a supportive community to turn to in times of need all play a role in how individuals deal with challenges. And while a little bit of stress can be beneficial for cognition, Oshri warns that persistently high levels of stress can be incredibly harmful, both physically and mentally.

He continued, “At a certain point, stress becomes toxic. Chronic stress, such as stress from living in extreme poverty or being abused, can have very bad health and psychological consequences. It affects everything from the immune system, to emotional regulation, to brain function.

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Source : اخبار الاردن

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