August 30, 2019 – Destressing
Anchor lead: How can we unlink stress and cognitive decline in women? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Stressful life events are linked to cognitive decline in women as they age, a Johns Hopkins study led by Cynthia Munro, a research psychologist, and colleagues has shown. Munro says most believe the effect is related to a hormone called cortisol.
Munro: Cortisol is the stress hormone that has gotten the most attention. It seems to have an effect on the hippocampus, which is really crucial for the ability to remember things. We don’t want the body to produce a lot of cortisol. It’s healthy to produce a lot of cortisol when there’s a stressor and then go back down to normal. What’s not healthy is when cortisol levels remain elevated. The way to intervene is to reduce the way people respond to stressful events, in a way that will then reduce cortisol levels. :30
Munro says meditation is helpful in reducing stress reactions for some, and she also recommends simply paying attention to activities that individuals find calming and participating in them regularly. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.