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Stress Caused by Traumatic Events May Shrink Your Brain

Everyone feels stress at some point in their life and a study from Yale University suggests that stress may actually change the physical structure of the brain's grey matter, which can lead to later psychological problems and physical manifestations such as higher blood pressure and changing blood glucose levels.

The researchers took MRI scans of 103 healthy adults after interviewing them about recent traumatic life events. The individuals who had most recently gone through traumatic events had markedly lower grey matter. The gray matter in the brain regulates emotions, self-control, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

They concluded that stresses over a lifetime could compound the situation making it harder and harder to deal with future stresses due to the increasingly diminished grey matter.

This study was published on January 9, 2012, in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Previous studies have suggested that high stress levels may also contribute to coronary artery disease. Methods to lower your stress levels include meditation, yoga, and lifestyle changes. Sometimes it's a simple as taking control of one really difficult aspect of your life and, as this study shows, the effort is well worth it!

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