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Chronic stress can depress cognitive functioning leading to problems with attention and concentration, memory, decision-making, and abstract thinking. Chronic stress has been found to cause serious effects in the body in general and in the brain in particular.

Chronic stress causes excessive amounts of cortisol to be produced from the adrenal cortex which in turn causes damage to arteries with subsequent increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI, heart attack) and stroke and damage to the hippocampus (an area critical for memory and for controlling levels of cortisol).

In addition, excessive cortisol interferes with deep sleep and with the production of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and growth hormone (GH) -- chemicals which the body needs for optimal functioning.

Furthermore, virtually every aspect of the immune system is depressed by excessive amounts of cortisol. White blood cells are literally decreased in number and in function. This is why individuals often get sick when stressed.

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