In a new study, researchers including one of Indian-origin have found that stress is contagious.
The study findings revealed that if one person is suffering from stress then, the chances are high that people close to that person may also suffer from stress.
The study was published in a journal called Nature Neuroscience.
Study: Key Findings
• The study was conducted on mice. The research team studied the effects of stress in pairs of male and female mice.
• They removed one mouse from each pair and exposed it to a mild stress.
• The researchers then examined the responses of a specific population of cells, specifically CRH neurons which control the brain's response to stress, in each mouse.
• The findings revealed that networks in the brains of both the stressed mouse and its partner were altered in the same way.
• The team discovered that the activation of these CRH (Corticotropin-releasing hormone) neurons cause the release of a chemical signal, an 'alarm pheromone', from the mouse that alerts the partner.
• The partner who detects the signal can in turn alert additional members of the group.
The researchers suggested that these findings may also be present in humans. Elaborating on the same, the Indian-origin researcher - Jaideep Bains - who is a Physiology and Pharmacology Professor at the University of Calgary said that humans readily communicate stress to others, sometimes without even knowing it. He said that there is even evidence that some symptoms of stress can persist in the family and loved ones of individuals who suffer from PTSD.
The findings indicate that stress and heightened emotions may be contagious and may have effects on the brain.
The brain changes associated with stress often lead to many mental illnesses including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and depression.
However, it is not known whether it would have lasting consequences on the brain.