If your daily life is super stressful, you鈥檝e probably tried just about聽every聽remedy out there, from stress relieving yoga poses to聽coloring books for stress reduction. Even though some studies say stress can actually be good for you, we all know it definitely doesn鈥檛 feel that way.聽Chronic stress can be completely debilitating, and seeing others deal with nerve-racking聽situations like聽it鈥檚 no big deal聽makes聽us wonder how聽they鈥檙e able to adapt so well. A聽new study聽published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits聽found that聽whether you crumble under stress or handle it like a boss is all聽in your head聽鈥 literally.


To get some insight into the differences between people who handle stress well and those who don鈥檛, researchers from universities in the US and the UK studied how mice responded to stressful situations. They found that brain activity in聽mice who showed helpless behavior in the face of stress was completely different from聽those who were聽resilient. In particular, the helpless mice exhibited聽significantly lower聽overall brain activity than the resilient聽mice.

Researchers also found that the helpless mice had less active prefrontal cortexes (the area responsible for organizing thoughts and actions), as well as less brain activity 鈥渋n areas vital for processing emotion and motivation, areas important for defensive behavior, those key for stress coping and those associated with learning and memory.鈥 So what does that mean for humans? Basically,聽if your brain is less active when you鈥檙e stressed, you won鈥檛 be able to process that stress very well, and you鈥檒l effectively shut down.


There was one area of the brain that lit up more in helpless mice: the locus coeruleus, which has been linked to depression.聽Since stress is a聽cause of聽depression, the scientists explained in a聽news release聽that聽the study, 鈥渉as the potential to guide future studies aimed at understanding the different roles specific brain regions play, as well as provide new targets for the development of new therapies.鈥

How do you think your brain handles stress? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!

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