Mind Twisting: Stress, Depression, And Intelligence

Stress and depression are two of the things in modern life that you will have to deal with at some point. The former is an everyday thing that can range from something as difficult as social fear to something as everyday as tripping over your own shoelaces. The latter, depression, is not that easy to develop clinically, but most people will end up experiencing a point in their lives that is dangerously close to depression. Both of these problems are largely seen as a threat to physical and mental health. However, recent studies show that these two conditions also have bad side effects on your own intelligence.

According to recent knowledge, it is not true that the human brain stops producing neurons and other critical brain cells later in life. In fact, there are some things that mean that the brain regenerates the above cells as needed and produces more to meet the needs of the individual. This is in direct contrast to the longstanding medical doctrine that after a certain point human brain cells no longer regenerate and instead enter a state of slow decay. However, as recent studies have shown, the more primitive areas of the brain can regenerate lost cells. This has a subsequent impact on a variety of mental functions, including memory, response time, and understanding. What does that have to do with stress and depression?

Apparently quite a lot. The two states mentioned above put the more primitive parts of the brain into “survival mode”. Upon entering this state, of course, the brain tries to minimize everything that could be considered light-hearted or unnecessary, and instead focuses all energies on the basics. This not only explains the apparent decrease in brain activity at times when an individual has the above problems, but it also begins to kill the cells that are currently present. Basically, brain cells die slowly when they are exposed to excessive stress and depression, and burn out neurons faster than normal. This would explain why some normally intelligent people seem to be mentally slower and less adept when put under emotional and psychological pressure. Another consequence would be the fact that the above two disorders can actually prevent the brain from regenerating cells to replace the old ones. Trophic factors, chemicals that are known to stimulate the brain, are not produced properly if a person suffers from the above conditions for a long time. Studies show that trophic factors are actually the chemicals responsible for the brain regenerating new cells. If the chemicals are cut off or the flow is interrupted, this can lead to a rapid decline in the human brain’s ability to repair itself over time.

Although these results are still controversial and questionable, it does offer an interesting look at how the brain works on a physical level. The long-held belief that the brain is unable to repair itself once a person reaches adulthood can only be questioned. These results are being researched further, but the concept already opens up several possibilities. For example, studies are currently underway to find out whether serotonin, a chemical used to combat a variety of mental disorders, has an impact on neuron regeneration.

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