Researchers Reveal How Anger Physically Changes Your Brain and Body
“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” ~ Buddha
The Buddha spoke about emotional mismanagement perhaps more than any other topic.
Why? Because emotional mismanagement – anger, anxiety, contempt, frustration, and so on – can be someone’s end. All of these emotions chip away at our mind and body unless we do something about them.
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, Buddha was far beyond his time regarding his thoughts and worldview. Researching Buddha’s life and applying his words – not just into articles but into life..
You see, this writer is a scientist at heart. A healthy dose of skepticism is required for any scientist in any field of study.
But science can only take us so far. Some of us become victims of intellectualism; thinking that we know more than we do – and we need a slice of humble pie. (The Buddha can help in this regard, as well!)
Buddha’s teachings have not only helped science but have directed science. Buddha’s insight into the human mind has led to some of the significant discoveries in the field of neuroscience (see: mindfulness, meditation.)
ANGER LEADS TO THE FOLLOWING POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:
- Making poor choices.
- Damaging interpersonal relationships.
- Violence, in some cases
- Regret for actions, afterward.
Indeed, anger not only punishes our mind but our body as well.
HOW ANGER IS ‘ACTIVATED’
According to Ruth Buczynski, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), the neuroscience of anger works in five steps:
- The first ‘spark’ of anger activates the amygdala (pronounced ‘uh-mig-duh-luh’), one of the brain’s most primitive areas.
The amygdala signals the hypothalamus (‘hip-oh-tha-luh-mus.’)
The hypothalamus signs the pituitary gland, which then discharges the hormone ACTH.
The pituitary gland signals the adrenal glands, which releases the hormone ACTH.
The adrenal glands secrete the stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline.
HOW ANGER CHANGES THE BRAIN
The two areas of the brain particularly prone to the negative effects of cortisol are the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus.
The PFC is the brain’s “executive center.” It’s where some of the most complex thinking takes place.
The PFC is responsible for:
It is thought that the PFC also plays an integral role in developing and pursuing individual goals.
The hippocampus – we have two of them – is where long-term memories reside, which includes all past knowledge and experiences. (Pretty impressive for something the size of a seahorse!)
The hippocampus also plays a significant role in declarative memory, the type of memory involving things that can be purposely recalled, such as events, facts, or numbers.
Additionally, suppression of the hippocampus may interfere with short-term memory.
The stress hormone cortisol is the culprit here. Excess cortisol floods neurons with calcium, which may cause the cells to overwork themselves to death.
Too much cortisol can also lower serotonin levels. Serotonin is a primary neurotransmitter of the brain responsible for feelings of happiness and mood stability.