Stress and Play on the Brain

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Stress is a state of mind characterized by restlessness, anxiety, and worry (Greenberg, 2017). Stress has numerous effects on the human brain and the effects are both short and long term. The effects also depend on the magnitude and the type of the stress.

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On the other hand, play also represents an important role in the development of the human brain, as it involves muscle relaxation, and mood regulation. For this reason, this will attempt to explain the positive and negative effects of stress and play on the human brain from infancy to adulthood using existing psychological theories.


The study of the relationship between stress and brain development is a subject that captures the attention of many people. People such as Sigmund Freud have incisive literature that explains discursively the impact of stress on the brain (Greenberg, 2017). However, before going into the details, it is important to mention that the term stress is relative in the sense it could be mild or chronic depending on the impact on an individual. In addition, it is worth mentioning that stress affects both the brain and the physical body. In this paper I will try to illustrate the impact of stress on the brain and the physical body.

Sigmund Freud is among the first people to study the impact of stress of on the brain and human health. He examined Anna O, a woman who was suffering from hysterical signs that were related to the heinous sexual harassment scenes she had witnessed in her life (Contrada & Baum, 2012). The exposure to traumatic experiences in her childhood affected her brain and made her uneasy, more anxious, and restless most of the time. While examining her, Freud found out that she was suffering from the effects of traumatic stress because of her exposure to sexual harassment as a child.

Studies in human beings and animals show that stress has immense impact on the brain development especially during infancy. Children feel the strongest impact of stress in relation to adults. This explains the reason children show heightened sensitivity to the things that happen around them than adults do in life (Greenberg, 2017). The changes they show come from the fact that the stress they experience from their environment affects their brain and molds behavior. During infancy, children undergo immense changes in their body structures; as a result, they feel stress no matter how mild it is.

In human beings, adults, and children, stress functions by triggering the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This leads to the production of glucocorticoids in the adrenals. The effect of the production of steroids in the brain is that expression of their receptors is even across the brain (Contrada & Baum,

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