What Does Stress Do To Your Mind? 5 Surprising Effects

The negative effect of stress on the mind is overwhelming. There are a lot of reports done on stress.

So, what does stress do to your mind?

Stress affects the mind by causing damage to the brain over the long-term. It can cause you several negative effects such as mental illness, memory damage, or even a mind block. Stress can also make you think negatively.

It is a common term we encounter in our everyday lives. “I am stressed, this job is stressing me out” and many more are expressions we used to convey the stress we face.

Psst. If you’re fighting stress every day, you might want to read our article on how to not let things bother you.

Stress results from doing more than your body and mind can handle.

For instance, a man trying to juggle three or more jobs, family pressure, and church obligations.

stress effects on your mind and brain
Image credit: Julian Burford

The mind reacts to stress. There are two ways the mind reacts: by fighting off stress or by avoiding it.

When next you see a stressed person reacting unnaturally, such as displaying foul moods or behavioral problems, it is the mind fighting back.

Some mood problems caused by the mind’s reaction to stress include sadness, frequent irritation, and anxiety. The behavioral problems include terrible eating habits and shocking anger outbursts.

What else does stress do to your mind? It causes mental illnesses such as depression.

According to reports, they link it to high blood pressure and fertility issues.

The above effects of stress you are familiar with.

What you are not familiar with is the damage stress poses to the brain.

Your brain which controls the mind has its defensive mechanism to wand off threats it perceives as harmful to its wellbeing.

The positive side of the stress

Stress is not always a terrible thing. We need stress to grow. Stress also sharpens the mind, improves our mental skills such as the ability to remember.

We particularly use it in a formal education setting. The workload on creche students increases as they move to higher classes. As the workload increases, so also is the mind developed.

However, the most common effects of stress are negative.

The 5 Ways stress affects the mind

There are several ways stress affects the mind. We look at the five popular ways stress affects the human mind.

1. It increases Mental Illness

Folks who suffer from stress are almost twice as likely to suffer mental illness than those who don’t.

Afraid of mental illnesses caused by stress? Relax, not all stress causes mental illness. The stress that causes mental illness is chronic stress.

This stress that sounds all serious causes long-term changes to the pattern of the brain.

Those who suffer from chronic stress have the following signs: anxiety and mood disorder.

What does stress do to your mind? According to multiple authoritative sources including Molecular Psychiatry, it causes mental illness such as depression and emotional disorder.

How does chronic stress do this? They disrupt normal brain function by creating a higher number of myelin-producing cells and reducing the number of neurons.

The result is a lack of balance and distorted timing in communication.

2. It makes the mind react positively or negatively

Stress causes the mind to respond. The impact of stress is not the same for every individual or situation. It can be a positive or a negative one.

Stress can help you solve problems and face tough challenges. It also helps improve your resistance. There is a name for this category of stress, it is good stress.

What does stress do to your mind? It can cause you problems such as making you vulnerable to mental disorders and abnormal actions.

3. It causes mind block

Stress can cause your mind not to function properly. It is through the mind we think. The mind is the part of the body (not a physical part) that contains the faculty of thought, reason, feeling, and memory of an individual.

A stressed person will experience mind block, inability to think properly and effectively.

The stressed person will experience physical discomfort when thinking such as headache and migraine.

Traumatic stress such as loss of a family member or a relative causes mind block more than others.

4. It causes memory damage

Stress affects the mind capacity to remember the event.

If you have ever encountered a stressful day that wore you out, you may have noticed that trying to remember the full details of what happened is not a simple task.

It is as if a thick dark cloud has descended on your memory.

The mind is fighting back the stress; it does not want to remember the event.

Just thinking about it is enough to bring back the emotions and feelings of that day. So, the mind subdues the information.

What does stress do to your mind? It can make you prone to forgetting important and little details.

For example, you woke up late for an interview; you rush to have your bath, do not eat, put on your clothes, and miss buttons and then you notice your key is not on your shelf. Trying to remember where you kept the key with the stress on you is a hell experience.

Studies on Stress suggest that it can lead to short-term memory losses. It compromises your ability to recall information.

Another brilliant example happens to students who experience top stress levels before writing an examination. They are prone to forget minor details of what they read that should ordinarily have been easy to pick out.

Stress though is a double-edged sword. Studies also show that stress can help the mind remember important information.

5. It shrinks the size of the brain

Stress causes the brain to shrink? Yes, but not the way you are imagining it. The shrinkage is small and not easily detected.

The areas most affected are the ones that deal with memory, metabolism, and emotions.

Everyday stress does not have the same effect on brink shrinkage as the traumatic ones.

Stress for most people is a daily occurrence and we can not do away with it. We face stress to earn our daily bread and even the super-rich also complain of stress.

We’re convinced that understanding how stress affects the mind will help mitigate its impact.

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