Anyone who has felt the rush of cortisol that comes with stress can probably guess that it's harmful to their health. This hormone is a part of our ingrained fight-or-flight response, and it can leave you feeling worn out and agitated. This, in turn, can start to affect you physically. If you routinely experience high levels of stress, it can chip away at your immune system, and your libido may take a serious beating as well. Recently, too, scientists have discovered that chronic anxiety can alter the makeup of your brain, leaving you more prone to depression and other mood disorders.
According to a press release from the University of California, Berkeley, chronic stress is linked to a boost of myelin production in the brain. Myelin essentially acts as a layer of insulation around our neurons, but the researchers note that any changes within the brain can disrupt the delicate and incredibly complex communication system that dictates how we think and feel. Clouding the feedback between different parts of the brain, they argued, could prevent us from moderating emotional and chemical responses to high-pressure situations.
"The finding […] suggests a key role for oligodendrocytes [which produce myelin] in long-term and perhaps permanent changes in the brain that could set the stage for later mental problems," the press release states.
If you routinely experience serious reactions to stress, it may already be affecting your mood in everyday life. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to help diffuse high levels of stress. Taking some time for yourself to just enjoy a cup of tea, engage in a yoga session and even enjoy a bit of sexual intimacy with your partner are all great ways to keep anxiety in check. Who knew that female lubricants could have health benefits too?