We have known for some time the affects that emotional stress has on the body. Particularly the increased risk of cardio vascular disease, this includes high blood pressure, and the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Some of this can be due to negative coping mechanisms – such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol – but a direct link between the psychological processes and the impact our health has been identified.
Research published in the Lancet last week by by a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine in New York have found a link between our emotions and heightened activity in the amygdala.
The amygdala is the part of the brain which processes emotions such as fear and anger.
In the first study by measuring activity in this part of the brain using CT scans and measuring the levels of inflammation in the arteries, heightened activity was indentified. By following up participants over several years, following a period of perceived stress, the researchers were able to show an association between the likelihood of a cardiac event and increased stress.
They also showed that higher levels of activity in the amygdala were associated with the occurence of cardiac events sooner.
The second study added weight to these findings. Participants stress levels were significantly associated with activity in the amygdala and arterial inflamation.
This pioneering work provides more evidence of the heart brain connection.
Keeping your stress levels in perspective are more important than ever.
Recognise stress within yourself
Journal your thoughts and feelings – reducing mental stresses and observe your growth
Increase physical activity levels to maintain body wellbeing
Eat as healthily as you can
Connect with others and communicate your challenge
At times this may be challenging, in which case seek support.