Addicted to stress


When stressors are repeated, the brain is re-wired to become more sensitive to stress in the future but also becomes addicted to the rush and boost the steroid hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) bring. This is why we often see people get labeled “adrenaline junkies” who take on high risk activities and sports.

In the neuroplastic brain, the greater the risk, the greater the reward means that the bigger the excitement of the activity, feeling, new or novel experience, the stronger the neurons wire that pathway together. The challenge in using stress to be the stimulus to re-wire the brain is that the brain re-wires patterns that are focused on short term survival and not maintenance of the body and its optimal function.

In survival the stress forces your brain to focus you on 3 big things. Your body; what must occur for it to survive in that moment. Your environment; where you can go to escape the threat. The thirdly time and how much of it do you have to use in order to evade the threat.

So when you are repeatedly plunged into the stress survival state, you memorise how it feels and because the steroid hormones or stress initially male you feel energised and powerful you become addicted to that feeling. Now when this feeling fades, your brain goes through a withdrawal, forcing your brain to drive thinking, decision making and emotions so it can once again get its hit and high. 

Once this cycle is repeated often enough the brain has re-wired into what has been termed “Brain Reward Deficiency Syndrome”. The repetition of stress has created a brain that is now addicted to stress.



Unfortunately the outcomes of this can be very impactful on a persons health and quality of life. Things like muscle tension, joint pain, unregulated inflammation throughout the body, digestive, hormonal or immune dysfunction. Mental health issues, behavioural or emotional issues, poor decision making, loss of creativity and learning issues. And this is not an exhaustive list, as 95% of all health issues have stress as their primary contributing factor.

As highlighted in last weeks blog, the stressors could come in a variety of forms from the 4 “T”s: thoughts, traumas, toxins and technology.

Once the addicted to stress wiring and patterns have been established in the brain through years if not decades of repetition (not likely weeks or months), it is going to take time to break and re-pattern the brains wiring to healthy function.

The first thing you may have to acknowledge is that this re-wring the patterns within the brain will take time and also require you doing things differently. You should not expect to get better while still doing the same things that cause the problem in the first place. Learn to become consistent, persistent and patient at doing new healthy things that promote optimal brain patterns. It will take time and repetition in changing the input to break the stress addiction patterns in the brain.

Brain based chiropractic adjustments is one tool you can introduce to help promote this new optimal brain patterns, breaking the brains addiction to stress.

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