The process of becoming more resilient to stressful events can lead to improved mental health, according to research.
Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK examined the effects of stress, anxiety and depression on the brains of people who were exposed to high levels of stress over a three-week period.
They found that the stress-related effects were most pronounced in those with high levels in anxiety.
They also found that people with higher levels of depression also showed the greatest increases in cortisol levels, a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar.
The researchers said their findings could lead to treatments for depression and anxiety disorders, as well as mental health disorders.
Professor Jonathan Latham, of the University’s School of Psychological Sciences, said the results suggested there could be some benefits to having a more resilient immune system.
“The more resilient you are the more your body’s response to stress can adapt to the stress and it becomes adaptive,” he said.
“So if you have high levels or even low levels of inflammation and chronic stress, it will be adaptive.”
If you have low levels or high levels, you may be at risk of having a life threatening illness.
“You may also have more trouble coping with chronic stress and your immune system may not be able to handle it.”
He said it was important to be aware of the potential risks of having too much cortisol in the body, and stressed the importance of monitoring it.
“There are certain levels of cortisol that you can be sensitive to, particularly if you are a person who has experienced trauma,” he explained.
“When you get stressed, you can experience stress-like behaviour and that can make your immune response to the inflammation in your body less effective.”
What is interesting is that people who have high cortisol levels also have increased levels of inflammatory markers in their blood.”‘
You can’t control your own body’A number of other research teams have also shown that stress can lead people to have a different way of thinking, according.
One group looked at the effect of exposure to chronic stress on the brain, and found that it increased the activity of genes that are linked to the development of anxiety and depressive disorders.
They then tested the effects on the way the brains functioned when people were exposed and saw that those with more chronic stress had increased activity in the amygdala, which is involved in emotion regulation.”
It’s really a little bit of a mystery,” said Dr Helen Wills, a researcher from the University College London.”
We don’t know exactly how stress affects the brain and how it influences our behaviour.
“One theory is that we may have more vulnerability to stress because of genetics, because our brains are bigger and they can be more responsive to stress.”
She said the finding was important because the brain was the organ that regulates a lot of other processes in the brain.
“These genes that we found to be affected were linked to anxiety and to depression.”
In particular we found increased activity of these genes in the hippocampus, which has been implicated in memory,” she explained.
She said there were other studies showing that chronic stress could affect the development and function of other brain areas.”
But the question that I have is that what’s interesting is, if we can understand the brain in the same way that we understand how the brain works, then we can start to understand how we can intervene in the functioning of the brain to affect the behaviour of the people that are experiencing stress,” she said.
She added: “So we can have a better understanding of how stress impacts the brain.”
Dr Wills said the work showed that the immune system and the body had a complex relationship.”
And if you can control the immune response, then you can manage stress.
“However if you don’t have a good immune response then you may get stress-induced inflammation that can cause an increase in inflammation, which in turn will cause your body to make cortisol, which then can cause anxiety and also depression.”
The findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.