Perhaps you’ve heard of the stress hormone cortisol before. And if you haven’t, you’re probably wondering what it has to do with memory loss. Actually, in addition to memory loss, cortisol is responsible for other negative effects to one’s body, including increasing your blood pressure, suppressing thyroid functions, causing blood sugar abnormalities and imbalances that can lead to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, and decreasing your bone density and muscle tissue.
Cortisol is produced for positive reasons, such as enabling your “fight or flight” responses, maintaining your immune function and insulin levels, and regulating your blood pressure and glucose metabolism. An excess of cortisol, however, is what causes all of the negative effects–including memory lapses and lower cognitive functionality.
Cortisol affects the cells in a certain part of your brain called the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that links with learning and long-term memory. Exposure to large amounts of cortisol can cause learning impairments by damaging the cells in the hippocampus which then leads to lowered cognitive functionality and memory loss.
A raise in cortisol is brought about by extended amounts of stress, so it’s important to keep your mind and body relaxed and well taken care of. This will help allow your cortisol levels to stay where they need to in order to function on an everyday basis, as well as for daily mental and emotional health. It’s important to include a little relaxation in your everyday routine to keep your body functioning at its best. By keeping your cortisol at a normal level, you will increase your chances of improving your long-term, and short-term, memory.