How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia

How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia

Are you sleeping restlessly, feeling irritable or moody, forgetting little things, and feeling overwhelmed and isolated? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. You’re probably just stressed out. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can be handy for a burst of extra
energy and focus, like when you’re playing
a competitive sport, or have to speak in public. But when its continuous, the kind most of us face day in
and day out, it actually begins to change your brain. Chronic stress, like being overworked
or having arguments at home, can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes. Stress begins with something called the hypothalamus pituitary
adrenal axis, a series of interactions between endocrine glands in the brain
and on the kidney, which controls
your body’s reaction to stress. When your brain detects
a stressful situation, your HPA axis is instantly activated and releases a hormone called cortisol,
which primes your body for instant action. But high levels of cortisol
over long periods of time wreak havoc on your brain. For example, chronic stress increases
the activity level and number of neural connections
in the amygdala, your brain’s fear center. And as levels of cortisol rise, electric signals in your hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with
learning, memories, and stress control, deteriorate. The hippocampus also inhibits
the activity of the HPA axis, so when it weakens, so does your ability
to control your stress. That’s not all, though. Cortisol can literally cause your brain
to shrink in size. Too much of it results in the loss
of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking
of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain the regulates
behaviors like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells
being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress
might make it harder for you to learn and remember things, and also set the stage for more serious
mental problems, like depression
and eventually Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of stress may filter
right down to your brain’s DNA. An experiment showed that the amount of nurturing
a mother rat provides its newborn baby plays a part in determining how that baby
responds to stress later in life. The pups of nurturing moms turned out
less sensitive to stress because their brains developed
more cortisol receptors, which stick to cortisol
and dampen the stress response. The pups of negligent moms
had the opposite outcome, and so became more sensitive to stress
throughout life. These are considered epigenetic changes, meaning that they effect
which genes are expressed without directly changing
the genetic code. And these changes can be reversed
if the moms are swapped. But there’s a surprising result. The epigenetic changes caused by
one single mother rat were passed down to many generations
of rats after her. In other words, the results
of these actions were inheritable. It’s not all bad news, though. There are many ways to reverse
what cortisol does to your stressed brain. The most powerful weapons are exercise
and meditation, which involves breathing deeply and being aware
and focused on your surroundings. Both of these activities
decrease your stress and increase the size of the hippocampus, thereby improving your memory. So don’t feel defeated
by the pressures of daily life. Get in control of your stress
before it takes control of you.



  • JônG ËmMà

    Guys do excirce and Yoga help , like really help with stress ? I need ur approval cuz deep down inn me i say they wont help my confition is more serious to be healed only by sport and meditation !

  • Emma White

    Please help me

  • Revict wicaksono


  • sayo_xp

    Thank you, school. 8 straight years of chronic stress..

  • A.

    first seconds of the video: are you sleeping restlessly? feeling irritable or moody? forgetting little things and feeling overwhelmed and isolated?

  • JM heirloom

    Great I’m screwed

  • Im Done

    They have been trying to do this to people so what are people going to do about it?

  • Mike Arsen

    Alzheimer is the worst disease ever, it kills ur personality

  • John Smith

    What do i do if i cant take breaks because i feel compelled to complete work. And when i do work i also feel stressed because i am impatient and want to complete everything because i already want to finish the entire school years and not quit because of regret about quitting after all this work. I also feel stuck that i have to get all mandatory credits or else i will not be allowed to get a job to survive and enjoy life. Its not even about pressure from others its about whether i want to quit to do what i want or not. Quitting will give me regret that all this stress and work was for nothing. But not quitting might be worth it but i am afraid of future oncoming stress and pain. I cannot control my patience

  • Wendy Njoka

    I die anytime stress comes near me

  • Neptune Solo

    Stress is a phase when people do not achieve their goals or hard to achieve goals when they know that they deserve a good life …
    There are people who likes to just have a prepared meal in front of them and do nothing for themselves…. these people are effortless and lazy
    But world is big and life is short and we have just enough to explore and greet people and be happy ….
    I learned to live with my stress whenever I had and I am still happy …

  • Isabel Cross

    These facts make me stressed due to the fact that I’m stressed

  • witri9

    This was actually informative. Thanks.

  • Watta

    Exercising increases blood flow through out the brain allowing for it to function more properly, and meditation lowers heart rate and calms a person allowing neural connections to be established more easily and also meditation can allows the hastening of neurogenesis in the brain which ks basically the repairing of neural connections, so meditation is extremely good as well as exercising.

  • Toxic Lhs

    Now I'm worried

  • tony stark

    Türkiye de yaşıyorum ama ben ?

  • No Name

    I’m going to keep exercising and meditate to make my hippocampus huge

  • Potato

    This video didn't help at all…

  • Lucie Gonzalez

    This was great. Very relevant, compassionate and reasonable. Good advice.

  • Rebecca Hernandez

    My therapist also told me that when a mother is pregnant with high stress levels, it increases risk of mental illness in her kid, mostly concerning depression and anxiety. Yippee

  • annastayziaa


  • Snow Blind

    I feel mocked

  • krishna pidaparthi

    superb 👌

  • NIcol Hawkins

    I was adopted and in foster care for the first 14 months of my life. I always suspected that being an infant without a mother had some kind of impact on my depression and anxiety. Now I know its for real! I do yoga at home everyday, and meditate. It really helps but has also made me a lot more introverted. People take so much energy, I feel happiest when I'm alone.

  • Headbangerr 1983

    My way to manage stress is quite simple: i try to keep order everywhere in my life. At home, at work etc. It's also the way of thinking, way of acting, even way of speaking with someone. Believe me, you cannot truly relax at home with TV or console or whatever, if you got one big mess all around. Same works for learning. If you live chaotic life, if you starting 10 different things and not finishing any of them, if you don't make a plan before acting, if you are creating more and more mess around yourself – i tell you – your life is 10 times more stressfull, than it could be.

  • Inwood Arts

    Cheer up, learn how our brains heal, and creates new pathways. Search tube 'Use it or Lose it, the nun study alzheimers'. Breathe out the fear. When we keep our bodies and brains active, they both improve considerably. Try it, challenge yourself to be your best caring friend ever for 21 days. At first it's a challenge as our body adjusts. Do it and find out how good it is when we heal, ourselves..

  • Karolien Notebaert

    Here is a positive message about what we can do about this!!
    There is a solution to this!

  • The Limbic System

    Food gives me pleasure but weight gain is giving me stress. Oh I need more food.

  • the furry kid


  • chuck morris

    its been more than 3 years. i dont even know how to stress you bout how much i agreed with you. its so bad i kept forgetting what i want to do 2 swconds ago. literally. almost all the time. im scared to tell anyone.

  • Ahil Kannan

    That explains many things

  • Mindfully Happy

    Learn Meditation: I'm sharing this great video on my website:

  • Rashida Hankins

    There is nothing wrong with my brain. You want to SLEEP and I'm not going to do that.

  • Pippy Amorin

    Sooo how do we change this? 😬

  • Markus Bryg

    I just have nothing to say but Thank you Ted Ed.

  • Shinchan's Funny Vines

    In short You're dying slowly. I can feel that.

  • FallenEmpress 8888

    Modern man has smaller brains

  • Rhain Frigillana

    Virtual friendly hugs (/ ^ • ^ )/!❤

  • Pakpicha Boon

    when I grow up and always stress about my mother alot.
    bored unhappy often.

  • jUnG sHoOk

    Did you know, the brain is learning about itself

  • Julio Tironi

    Thanks Ted Ed

  • shahad

    I’m literally stressed everyday

  • Lil MeowMeow

    True I almost forget some basic things. That make me so scare I tries hard everyday to escape stress

  • Ivan Cornelio

    Is there a way to restore what is damaged? I want to know more. THANK YOU TED!

  • vin ritarita

    i hate school (ノ`Д´)ノ彡┻━┻

  • Areta Figueiredo

    Wonderful! Excelent video, but now I’m concerned about my brain😐

  • hybrid gamer

    Thank you, this really helped will follow whatever you said 😌

  • Ssa Exa

    Makes me more stress now

  • Chris Trudell

    I get stress when my alarm goes off.😋☮️🇨🇦

  • Lorenz Cobretti

    this stressed me out for minutes. thank you for the ending that guaranteed solutions to this stressful warnings. lol

  • Aakriti Bishal

    I love you Ted-Ed for changing lives 😘


    I want to show this video to my father to make him understand how his toxic brhaviour is making me stressed but He will give me more stress about it. Ironical!

  • Arturo Lopez

    Well chronic is definitely better than stress👍

  • Natalie Portillo

    I really like the intro music, I feel like I’m about to learn something good

  • xPockyhearts

    This video has stressed me out more..

  • A K

    I love whoever made this video

  • Dadson worldwide

    Perception is so powerful .just how much of our reality is dominated by our soul is amazing .we all could have our soul in one demension while our physical is here in this demension. how your soul is determines how we physically veiw things .it doesnt help to know your over reacting either .the feelings rule over everything else.

  • trex kiro

    Now im even more stressed out

  • madre fakre

    I can give away my kortizol for free

  • kashif khan

    depression hypertension stress anxiety are quite alien back in 90s and peoples back then were more relaxed as they were unaware of such terms ..sometimes awareness can be harmful


    I’m fu****! It’s too late.

  • chiko phiri

    I'm stressed about exercise. Can I take a nap instead?

  • Gifyifhk hmcucyk

    Thanks school…

  • its_n

    I don’t want a small brain 🙁

  • MsPattyRice 84

    Oh no. This explains my severe brain fog! 😢😢😢😢😢

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