Chiropractic Meridian ID Chronic Stress

Have you ever noticed after what should be a minimally stressful situation that your brain goes to mush?

  • You have problems with finding words during conversations and feel your brain is glitching.
  • You are less patient with your kids, co-workers, and even spouse and are irritable.
  • You go from 0-60 when it should have only been a 10.
  • You get dizzy and become off balance.

Now ask yourself, do any of these sound like you? It’s okay if it is, this is something that I see every day and there are many more examples that could have been listed.

I’m going to review first why and then where stress impacts the brain in Meridian ID.


STRESS AND MICROGLIA CELLS

Microglia cells are the primary immune cells in the brain. They are responsible for brain development as well as degeneration. Needless to say we need them to do their job properly.

These immune cells have 3 main states they reside in: resting, M1, and M2. M1 is an inflammatory state, while M2 is an anti-inflammatory state.

To understand how this works, I want to use traumatic brain injury as an example. When this injury happens the microglia cells shift from a resting to M1 state. Triggering this initial inflammation with M1 state is essential for cleaning up damage that occurs and initiating the clean-up process. After the damaged brain cells are cleaned up the microglia then change to an M2 state. This is an anti-inflammatory state that is meant for repair and growth.

Hint, this doesn’t happen in many traumatic brain injuries which is a big reason why individuals still struggle.

Graphic by: Zhang, L., Zhang, J., & You, Z. (2018). Switching of the Microglial Activation Phenotype Is a Possible Treatment for Depression Disorder. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience, 12, 306. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2018.00306

We will focus the rest of this conversation around this graphic.

As you can see chronic stress increases inflammation in the brain which changes the immune system and causes the microglia cells to shift to a M1 state and release inflammatory chemicals.

This is different from the example above. Brief M1 response is important, but when it is prolonged it is very harmful.

This also impacts the ability to regulate neurotransmitters which is why with depression much of the traditional treatment has been around augmenting them, which doesn’t have great results which you will understand more in a moment.

Lastly, it causes damage to the brain, impacts the ability to make connections, and creates bad connections between parts of the brain.


IMPACT OF STRESS ON THE BRAIN

Where exactly does stress impact the brain the most? When looking at the picture above there are three main areas that we will focus on: hippocampus, amygdala, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

First up is the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory. It is very susceptible to stress and is widely known for its role in Alzheimer’s dementia. If you have noticed having problems with learning and memory when you are stressed then it is likely due to your hippocampus being hurt.

Second is the amygdala.

The amygdala is responsible for fear and threat responses. Have you ever eaten something bad and thrown up and never want to touch it again as even the smell makes you sick? That is an amygdala response.

When the amygdala is impacted with stress it is prone to labeling things as bad. If this happens enough individuals develop ptsd, depression, and anxiety.

Lastly, is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making, emotions, and emotional regulation. This can lead to labeling things as bad that shouldn’t be and is why you feel irritable even though you know it shouldn’t make you feel that way.

Needless to say, you may be able to see when these 3 areas are impacted by stress it isn’t shocking to have depression, anxiety, ptsd, brain fog, and irritability. It can make recovery from a concussion or TBI significantly harder. Lastly, it can set the stage for developing dementia


CHANGING THE STRESS RESPONSE

Nothing good comes from having an altered stress response and it will likely end bad. Knowing how to approach stress is essential.

Here we have talked about stress and the brain, but stress also impacts the general immune system as talked about in a different blog. There are many different things that may cause stress on the system and they need to be addressed.

  • Toxins
  • Infections
  • Head Injuries
  • Abuse/Emotional Trauma
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Blood Sugar
  • Much More

There isn’t only one treatment, but our approach using our BMB Method allows us to evaluate the Brain, Mind, and Body to identify the factors negatively impacting you. With that information we are able to create a customized plan.

You don’t have to let the effects of chronic stress control your life anymore, just like many of our patients who have found answers and solutions to their most pressing health concerns.