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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

From looming deadlines at work to traffic on the commute home, stress is a natural part of modern life. In response to stressful or fearful experiences, the brain releases chemicals that help the body respond quickly. While research shows short bouts of stress can be of some benefit, constant stress can prove dangerous, increasing the risk of mental illness and other diseases. Understanding what makes people more or less resilient to stress and fear may one day lead to new treatments for anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ongoing studies are helping researchers understand how genetic makeup, the environment, and exposure to stress early in life can influence vulnerability to stress and anxiety. Recent studies highlight the molecular, cellular, and structural differences in the brains of people with anxiety disorders. Such insight could help doctors make quicker diagnoses and might one day lead to new avenues for drug discovery.

Discoveries

Source: Society for Neuroscience
According to environmental scientists, the climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Research shows environmental change can affect the brain and behavior.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Considered the most common mental illnesses, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 18 percent of the adult population in a given year, or 40 million Americans.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
In response to signals from a brain region called the hypothalamus, the adrenal glands secrete glucocorticoids, hormones that produce an array of effects in response to stress.

Stress and Anxiety in the News

Source: Scientific American
Date: 12 Aug 2014

The new identification of possible genetic markers for post-traumatic stress disorder supports treatment with a steroid hormone a few hours after trauma.

Source: National Public Radio
Date: 9 July 2014
A racing mind and a pounding heart aren't all bad — the stress response can help humans and other animals deal with the unexpected.
Source: Medical Daily
Date: 19 May 2014
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and has widely been known as a successful relaxant and treatment for stress. According to researchers, it’s now also a proven way to process more memories and emotions.
Source: Inside Science
Date: 12 May 2014
Captive gorillas display fewer stress-related behaviors in response to rainforest sounds.