A new study from researchers at the University of Washington provides us all with even more reasons why we should stop stressing out so much. As part of the research—the findings were recently published in journals Nature and Nature Neuroscience—the team looked at dopamine levels in lab mice, and how they are affected by stressful situations. Though the details of the experiment, and how the brain processes hormones and chemicals, get a bit technical (the Wall Street Journal has a really interesting write-up that outlines the study), their ultimate findings suggested that stress may prevent the brain from feeling pleasure, possibly even triggering major depression. As WSJ puts it, after extended periods of stress,
A switch has been flipped; stimuli that would normally evoke motivated exploration and a sense of reward now evoke the opposite. Remarkably, those few days of stress caused that anhedonic state to last in those mice for at least three months.
Though researchers still have a lot to understand about the brain and depression, the finding suggest that chilling out could be an important factor in staying happy ... Discuss