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What is stress? An expert discusses effects on the brain
by Linda Egenes

Enlightenment Magazine    Translate This Article
2 February 2012

Stress today is so prevalent that many people maintain a chronic stress response, which means that they stay in the 'fight or flight' response mode for a long time, said clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud, Ph.D.*

In a recent interview Dr Stixrud discussed the effects of stress on the brain and mental health and how to alleviate them through the Transcendental Meditation Technique.

Enlightenment: What is stress?

Dr. Stixrud:
Stress is anything that disturbs the body's homeostasis and causes it to go into the fight or flight response. Certain things happen to the mind and body when you have to respond to a stressor—you get a surge of adrenaline, your muscles get stronger, your senses heighten, and you can do amazing things, like a mother lifting a car when her child is in danger.

However, if the stress response continues to occur, the adrenal steroid cortisol continues to flood the system. The great challenge of modern life is that stress is so prevalent that many people maintain a chronic stress response, which means that they stay in the fight or flight response mode for a long time. Chronic stress is always bad for you.

As the interview progressed, Dr Stixrud went on to describe specific changes in the brain due to stress and their consequences for mental health, and how meditation can prevent these adverse effects of stress. Global Good News will continue to feature his detailed explanations.

* William Stixrud, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist and director of William Stixrud & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, a group practice specializing in learning, attention, and emotional disorders. Dr. Stixrud is an adjunct faculty member at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

See related article:
Four things to know about stress: What it is, what it does, how to deal with it, how to prevent it - Dr William Stixrud

* Dr Stixrud is coauthor of a recent study published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry showing effects of Transcendental Meditation in improving brain functioning in students with ADHD.

© Copyright 2012 Maharishi Foundation USA

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