Close this search box.
Close this search box.

5 Ways That Stress Affects Brain Health and Speeds Up Aging

Reviewed by Kimberly Cabe, FNP-BC of Forum Health Rochester Hills

Stress is any source of external pressure that weighs upon another object. The stress we deal with in our lives often manifests both physically and mentally, breaking down our bodies, our minds and overall health. Stress also significantly affects our brains, contributing to symptoms like brain fog, difficulties with memory and recall, and physical manifestations like headaches and trouble sleeping. 


Studies have shown that people exposed to chronic stress age rapidly because stress causes inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by over-production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which damages tissues, affects normal functioning of mitochondria in the cells and amplifies the inflammation that speeds up aging. 


Because of this, stress management is a valuable part of anti-aging treatment. Too much stress can leave you feeling frazzled, overwhelmed and unhealthy ultimately causing many problems of aging to grow more severe and appear at a younger age.

5 Ways That Stress Makes You Age Faster and How it Impacts the Brain:

  1. Cognitive Troubles: Stress physically ages the brain by halting cell regeneration and interfering with neurotransmitter production, thus preventing the brain from efficiently communicating with other parts of the body. Chronic stress is also associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

  2. Decreased Hearing and Vision: Chronic stress causes inflammation throughout the body, which causes blood vessels to constrict. When this happens many areas of the body can be affected, including vision and hearing. While these effects are temporary during anxiety attacks, chronic stress can break down the integrity of seeing and hearing abilities.

  3. Cell Damage: Chronic stress can severely damage or even destroy cells. Cell degeneration is a contributing factor in many common signs of aging, including poor immune health, reduced skin elasticity and low energy levels.

  4. Weight Gain: Stress can impact your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Feeling stressed often leads people to overeat or make otherwise poor food choices, while feeling overwhelmed or short on time is a common reason for skipping exercise. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can actually help you manage stress levels.

  5. Memory Loss: Aside from general cognitive decline, stress can specifically increase your risk for memory loss and difficulty forming new memories. Stress-induced memory loss may cause general forgetfulness, trouble recalling names and confusion completing tasks. Controlling stress levels can often reverse this type of memory loss.


Stress impacts your health mentally and physically. It can make you more susceptible to illness and leave you feeling mentally and emotionally drained. But for the most part, stress is unavoidable. It isn’t possible to go through your life avoiding every stressor—just trying to accomplish this would be stressful on its own! Instead, you can keep your stress levels at bay by learning strategies to manage and relieve stress naturally.