We tend to think of stress as an immediate problem: The boss hovering over our desks; the mad dash to the subway at the end of a long day. And in the short-term, stress makes us feel irritable, anxious, tense, distracted and forgetful. But that’s only part of the story.
Over time, elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can chip away at our physical, mental and emotional health. The link between chronic stress and the potential for mental health conditions — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders — is well-established. But what kind of changes — both fleeting and lasting — are actually taking place in the brain when we experience a stressful event?