In the heat of anger, we often don’t use our best judgment.
We may say and do things we later regret, or lose track of what we’re arguing about.
Why is that?
Well, it has to do with cortisol. You see, anger can spark an overload of cortisol in the brain.
So where does the cortisol come from in the first place? That’s something we got into here.
And to help you visualize what’s happening when there’s too much cortisol in the brain, we put this together for you (and please feel free to make a copy to share).
Click the image to enlarge
Where do these stress hormones come from?
To find out, check out Part 1 of this infographic series.
- Elevated cortisol can cause your neurons to take in too much calcium through their membranes
– The problem with this is it can make cells fire too frequently and die.
- Too much cortisol n cause a loss of neurons in your prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus.
- Suppressed activity in your prefrontal cortex (PFC) can prevent you from using your best judgement
– This is why you might not make good decisions or plan well for the future when you’re upset
- Too much cortisol in your hippocampus can kill neurons and keep your brain from making new ones. This can weaken your short-term memory and prevent you from forming new memories properly.
– This is why you might not remember what you want to say in an argument
- Too much cortisol can decrease serotonin – that’s the hormone that makes you happy.
– A decrease in serotonin can make you feel anger and physical pain more easily.
– This also might be why you act in more aggressive ways or feel depressed.
As you can see, these hormones can have a big impact on your brain. But that’s not all they might do.
(We put a lot of work into creating these resources, so please include the copyright information and attribute to NICABM if sharing. Thanks!)
For more practical tools and strategies to help clients manage anger, have a look at this short course featuring Stephen Porges, PhD; Marsha Linehan, PhD; Peter Levine, PhD; Ron Siegel, PsyD; Pat Ogden, PhD; and other top experts.
Now that you’ve seen how anger can impact the brain, how will you use these ideas in your life or work? Please leave a comment.