Chronic stress predisposes us to mental disorders, study shows


Research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that could explain why those suffering from chronic stress are prone to mental problems, especially anxiety and mood disorders. The findings could lead to new therapies for stress counseling and after-event stress mitigation.

The study builds on the abnormalities found in the brain in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as amounts of gray versus white matter. This has long been associated with PTSD adn it is known that gray matter consists mostly of neural cells while white matter is made up of axons, which are a network of fibers that interconnect neurons.

A series of experiments by U.C. Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology Daniela Kaufer and graduate students discovered that chronic stress generates more cells that produce myelin (white matter) and fewer neurons, resulting in white matter becoming more prevalent in some areas of the brain. This can, researchers into PTSD theorize, upset the balance and timing of communication and Professor Kaufer believes it to be true of chronic stress as well.

"We studied only one part of the brain, the hippocampus, but our findings could provide insight into how white matter is changing in conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, suicide, ADHD and PTSD," she said.

Kaufer and her colleagues published their findings in the February 11 issue of Molecular Psychiatry.


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979