Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Can moving cause your brain to shrink?
Anyone who has relocated knows that a move is a very stressful event. The process can leave you feeling isolated and lonely, possibly experiencing depression or anxiety. When I moved across the country to Calgary last year, I was very lonely. Reading Lonely by Emily White drew my attention to the cognitive effects of loneliness that I was experiencing but had not associated with my loneliness.
My eyes were drawn to a recent article titled " Stress may cause brain to shrink". The article detailed a Yale University study where researchers found that stressful life events can reduce the grey matter in regions of the brain that regulate emotions and physiological functions. Looking at MRIs, the researchers found brain changes soon after stressful events such as a hard day at work, a fight with a spouse. They did not mention a move, yet the impact of that is much longer.
Now, almost a year into my relocation I am feeling settled and engaged in my new life. So I am hoping my brain is no longer shrinking! I do wish they had tested to see if the impacts were temporary. Research show that stress hormones tend to increase waist size and now I read decrease brain size- if only the reverse were true.
If you have relocated, how long did it take you to feel like you were settled in and did you notice any cognitive or emotional differences between those two states?