How Stress Suppresses the Brain and Cell Growth


Someone recently asked me this question: “What is the number one factor affecting human mortality?”

The answer could well be, “Stress,” because stress supresses (reduce) brain activity and the growth of all cells!

Let me clarify.

There is no doubt that any kind of stress—physiological, cognitive, or emotional—damages an individual’s health. Each stressful moment reduces brain activity, especially frontal lobe activity, which occurs in the part of the brain that stores a person’s intellectual ability to communicate with the outside world. Under stress, intellectual ability is decreased: You can’t work efficiently, communicate properly, or make important decisions.  Motivation is decreased, as well, which may result in your state of happiness dropping to its lowest level.

Stress can prevent you from living a full life: It suppresses your brain, causing it to perform below the maximum level of your intellectual and physiological capacity. Unfortunately, when you experience stress, your body automatically switches to survival mode in an effort to help you survive the “attack,” whether that attack is real or imagined.

So what’s wrong with being in survival mode?

Although survival mode protects you from the stressor, it is not a normal mode with which the human body operates. Once the stress is over, you need to go back to normal mode; if you don’t go back, you’re in a state of chronic stress (persists over a long period of time).

In survival mode, the human body needs to save energy by shutting down all “unnecessary” processes, such as digestion, the immune system, cognitive thinking, or libido. I’m not kidding: The stress response is brutally “honest.” It asks you: “Do you want to survive, or do you want to maintain all these processes? Choose one or the other, because you can’t have both.”

Digestion, immune protection, or intellectual thinking comprise a kind of “wasting energy” when you’re in survival mode. In other words, you don’t need these processes when preparing for a fight or flight situation. All you need at that moment is to save energy and to survive.

Now you know why people dealing with chronic stress are often sick (immunity goes down), why they have digestion problems (the whole process slows down), or why they are confused and can’t seem to concentrate. People experiencing this type of stress are full of stress hormones and, as a result, they influence the people around them to the point that they also feel stressed. Stress is contagious—did you know that?

Under stress, the human body works inadequately, shutting down one of the most important processes in the human body: the process of growing. Human cells have two roles: to protect you from outside threats and to grow. When growing stops, the body collapses. Why? Because you can’t sustain both processes at the same time: protection and growth. Under stress, you’re functioning from a protective mode. When the protective mode is working, the process of growing is supressed. The human brain “knows” this and will always try to protect you first. Eventually, the process of growing will come back, but only when the protection mode is off and you’re once again in a relaxed state.

Yes, stress is a killer. If you want to enjoy a long and healthy life, try to find the best way to reduce the stress in your own life and the sooner the better. The Internet is a helpful source for finding suggestions for stress reduction.

If you think you don’t have the time to explore ways in which to reduce stress in your life, I urge you to reconsider. The truth of the matter is this: You can’t afford not to take the time. Your health, and perhaps your very life, is at stake.