London: It`s high time that you see a doctor if you are suffering from anxiety, for researchers say that prolonged stress could shrink your brain and even cause
Alzheimer`s disease, the most common form of dementia.
A study has found that suffering stress for long periods of time can shrink the brain and lead to dementia -- this is because chemicals released by body during prolonged stress are
toxic to brain tissue.
The research suggests chemicals -- called corticosteroids -- can kill off brain cells if concentrations remain high over long periods. Corticosteroids help the body in "fight or
flight" situations suppressing immune system and increasing the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
The hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in the formation of memories, is particularly susceptible – which leads doctors to believe stress may lead to dementia.
The discovery initially came about from doctors treating bosses of Wall Street firms for post traumatic stress after the 9/11 attacks. Brain scans showed the executives had found
that their hippocampuses had shrunk to the size of those of elderly people suffering dementia, the `Daily Mail` reported.
T Byram Karasu, professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: "The sample size is too small to draw conclusions but the implication is
that stress had affected the hippocampus."
Further research by the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Centre published in the `Journal of Neuroimaging` also found that war veterans with post traumatic stress suffered a greater degree of brain loss.
Another research last year found that mid-life stress can increase the risk of women developing Alzheimer`s. Those who reported repeated episodes of stress and anxiety in middle age were up to twice as likely to develop dementia.