Scientists Discovered Why People Get Stressed Following Close Contact With A Stressed Person

Why is stress contagious?

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A team of scientists found the reason why people get stressed upon hearing about a stressful experience or having close contact with a stressed individual. Stress is an emotional or physical pressure caused by overloading or struggle to cope up with the demands.

According to the survey of American Psychological Association, the average stress levels in the United States alone increased from 4.9 to 5.1 in 2015. The main reasons for stressful experiences or the demands link to stress include employment, money, work, relationships, and situations such a threat to the well-being of the individual, according to Medical News Today.

In some instances, stress could be transmitted to another person and could make the person in stressful experience too. A report suggests that the family members of some of the soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had also seen signs and symptoms of PTSD even though they did not serve in the military.

A new study to be published in the Nature Neuroscience in March 2018 indicates that stress transmitted to other people could alter the brain in the same way as the real stressed person. The scientists from the University of Calgary led the research.

Toni-Lee Sterley, the lead author of the study, explained that there had been other literature that shows stress could transfer to another. And their research is showing the brain is changed by that transmitted stress. He further said that the neurons that control the brain’s response to stress showed changes in unstressed partners that were identical to those they gauged in the stressed mice.

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In the study, the scientists examined the effects of stress in pairs of male or female mice. They exposed one mouse to mild stress while away from its partner, then returned it to its partner.

The researchers evaluated the responses of a particular population of brain cells in each mouse. The results showed that the brain cells of both the stressed mouse and its partner changed in the same way. They also found that the activation of the neurons triggers the release of a chemical signal known as “alarm pheromone.” This signal from the mouse alerts its partner. The partner identifies the signal and also alerts other members of the group, according to Medical Xpress.

The study also indicates that the effects of stress on the brain in female mice reduced in half following social interactions. The researchers said that this could help provide information on how to conceptualize personal approaches for the treatment of people with stress disorders.