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Business News/ News / World/  Low to moderate stress lowers chance of depression, antisocial behaviour

Low to moderate stress lowers chance of depression, antisocial behaviour

Stress like studying for a test, working longer hours to complete a deal, or preparing for a big conference at work can all help you develop personally.

There is a fine line between healthy stress and excessive stress.Premium
There is a fine line between healthy stress and excessive stress.

Low to moderate amounts of stress can foster resilience in people and lower their chance of developing mental health conditions including depression and antisocial behaviour, according to recent research from the University of Georgia's Youth Development Institute. The Psychiatry Research journal published the study's findings. Such stress might also prepare people for future challenging situations.

Stress from preparing for a major meeting at work, studying for an exam, or working longer hours to finish a deal can all help you grow as a person. For instance, a writer's style may change after being rejected by a publisher. Additionally, getting fired could make someone reevaluate their skills and decide whether to pursue new opportunities or stick with what they know best.

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"If you're in an environment where you have some level of stress, you may develop coping mechanisms that will allow you to become a more efficient and effective worker and organize yourself in a way that will help you perform," said Assaf Oshri, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

However, there is a fine line between healthy stress and excessive stress.

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"It's like when you keep doing something hard and get a little callous on your skin," continued Oshri, who also directs the UGA Youth Development Institute. "You trigger your skin to adapt to this pressure you are applying to it. But if you do too much, you're going to cut your skin."

A healthy amount of stress can protect against the negative effects of future adversity.

The National Institutes of Health-funded Human Connectome Project, a national initiative that attempts to shed light on how the human brain functions, provided the researchers with the data they needed. A questionnaire that is frequently used in research to gauge how chaotic and stressful people find their life was used to collect data from more than 1,200 young adults who reported their perceived stress levels for the current study.

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Participants answered questions about how frequently they experienced certain thoughts or feelings, such as "in the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?" and "in the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?"

Then, tests were used to evaluate their neurocognitive abilities, including measures of working memory, processing speed, picture sequence memory, attention, the capacity to suppress automatic responses to visual stimuli, cognitive flexibility, or the capacity to switch between tasks, and cognitive flexibility.

In addition to other behavioural and emotional issues, the researchers compared those results to the individuals' responses to several measures of nervous feelings, attention issues, and aggression.

The analysis found that low to moderate levels of stress were psychologically beneficial, potentially acting as a kind of inoculation against developing mental health symptoms.

"Most of us have some adverse experiences that actually make us stronger," Oshri said. "There are specific experiences that can help you evolve or develop skills that will prepare you for the future."

But the ability to tolerate stress and adversity varies greatly according to the individual.

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Things like age, genetic predispositions and having a supportive community to fall back on in times of need all play a part in how well individuals handle challenges. While a little stress can be good for cognition, Oshri warns that continued levels of high stress can be incredibly damaging, both physically and mentally.

"At a certain point, stress becomes toxic," he said. "Chronic stress, like the stress that comes from living in abject poverty or being abused, can have very bad health and psychological consequences. It affects everything from your immune system, to emotional regulation, to brain functioning. Not all stress is good stress."

(With ANI inputs)

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Published: 03 Aug 2022, 06:36 AM IST
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