Every one of you tends to experience stress at some point in your life. Sometimes, stress plays a positive role in getting things done but when it becomes chronic, you start suffering from health problems.These problems may include chest pain, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and mental conditions.
Around 80% of the U.S citizens regularly suffer from physical symptoms due to stress. It is important to learn how to manage it and reduce its consequences in daily life.
Stress in Adolescence
A lot of people start experiencing stress in their adolescence. During this phase, the causes of stress may include bullying, performance anxiety, or pressure from the family.
Stress in adolescence, in turn, increases the risk of acquiring psychopathologies such as addiction, anxiety, ADHD, or gambling.
A team belonging to the Institute of Neuroscience at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain underwent a study on three different groups of male rats. They found that the ability to manage stress in adolescence reduces the risk of negative effects on adult life. The findings are published in the journal named Scientific Reports.
The investigators exposed one group of these rats to various stress sessions during their adolescence which they had the power to control through specific behaviors. By changing their behaviors, these mice were able to prevent or stop all stressful stimuli.
Another group was exposed to the same stress sessions but the members of this group had no ability to manage them with behavioral changes. The third group was kept away from these sessions altogether.
Decreasing the Negative Impact of Stress
While exposing the rats to stress, the investigators also monitored their endocrine responses through the activity of hypothalamic,pituitary-adrenal axis, the central stress response system of the body.
During the adult stage, the scientists checked the expression of dopamine type 2 receptors in the dorsal striatum, an area in the brain that affects the behaviors. The scientists also checked a few other cognitive factors as well.
The results concluded that HPA activation due to uncontrollable and controllable stress was equal in the group when they were first exposed to stress. However, after some time, a key difference was spotted between the two.
The controllable stress group was found to have lower HPA response as compared to the other group which had developed an increase in their motor impulsivity and a decrease in their cognitive flexibility.
In addition to this, the behavioral impact of the uncontrollable stress also caused an increase in the dopamine type 2 receptors in the dorsal striatum. This is the part of our brain which controls cognitive inflexibility and impulsivity. Stress did not cause any effect on other aspects like cognitive impulsivity and attention.
As per the lead authors of the study, there are different factors that can mitigate the long-term as well as the short-term effects of stress on health.
This animal study has shown that promoting strategies to control the stress sources in adolescence is among the most crucial factors in decreasing the risk of high-stress levels in adulthood. Moreover, it can reduce the vulnerability to mental as well as physical issues as well.