Don’t Freak Out, But Stress Is Shrinking Your Brain

Exhausted businessman sitting at desk in office at night
Exhausted businessman sitting at desk in office at nightWestend61 / Getty Images

Stress is partly to blame for ills like high blood pressure, obesity, and depression. A new item on its rap sheet: It may shrink your brain. A study of 2,000 healthy people found that those with high levels of cortisol had less brain volume than those with less of the stress hormone, especially in areas responsible for thought processing and memory. Before you get more stressed out, know that brain volume decline is normal.



“It’s a question of how fast,” says co-author Dr. Sudha Seshadri at UT Health San Antonio. “And cortisol appears to increase that rate of decline.” Try reducing stress through methods like sleeping more, meditation, exercise, and therapy.

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