Friday, May 2, 2008

Now if I could just remember where I found this article...

If I were to be able to tally the time I've spent over a lifetime looking for lost things...especially my keys...there would probably be enough time there to pursue my Ph. D in neuroscience. And I'd likely find myself in a program conducting studies like this one, which looked at how stress affects the memory center (and why mine doesn't seem to ever register "last key location" in any functional part of my neurons).

Most researchers in the area of depression agree that a characteristic biological marker of depression is an elevated level of cortisol, a stress hormone. The researchers in this study decided to see just what cortisol does to the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, both short- and long-term.

Chronic exposure to cortisol decreased the ability of the hippocampus to regenerate neurons, and the volume of existing neurons decreased. These changes could be prevented with the administration of two different antidepressants, imipramine (Tofranil), and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Short-term exposure to stress brought out "depressed" behaviors in the rats. Long-term exposure seemed to create more of an anxious presentation.

The researchers concluded that the physically damaging effects of stress could be prevented with antidepressants.

I conclude that the next time I lose my keys, if I can remember to do so, I'm going to use that as an indicator that I may be trying to do too many things in too short a time. And that I need to do something to reduce my stress level. I really don't think I need to be taking an antidepressant to prevent memory loss!

Murray F, Smith DW, Hutson PH. Chronic low dose corticosterone exposure decreased hippocampal cell proliferation, volume and induced anxiety and depression like behaviours in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Mar 31;583(1):115-27.


Diana Bertoldo said...

Glad to hear you will be opting out on the pharmaceutical option and choosing personal accountability instead... in the long run that will be cheaper for sure!

After all, the key to stress relief is really just about becoming more conscious--don't you think?

hormonewoman said...

Depends on if you talk to me or my two cats. They seem to side with the "regular bellyrubs, tuna treats, and naps in warm sunny places" school of stress management!