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can stress cause "non-specific white matter" in the brain?
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can stress cause "non-specific white matter" in the brain?

if you haven't seen my postings, i had an MRI about 3 weeks ago - results were areas of small "non-specific white matter".  i have had a bit of memory loss, hard for me to keep focus, pay attention, a bit off balance and just generally don't feel right in my skin.  i am a high-stress worrywort who is now trying to convert to a more calming, relaxed person.  i am meeting with a neurologist in a couple of weeks to try to piece together my symptoms and MRI results.  i know that stress can significantly affect us, affect our brains but i am wondering if it can actually cause/create these non-specific white matter areas?  any studies you can direct me to would be appreciated.
thanks so much - hope it is a happy, healthy day!
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I don't think stress can cause non-specific white matter changes in your brain.  The only things that cause that are migraines, transient ischemic attack, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, or multiple sclerosis.  I think that covers it, but I'm not sure.
Hi ba,

Stress by itself can NOT cause white matter lesions in the brain.  But as we all know, stress is not good for the body for anyone.  Stress causes weaknesses in the immune system and sets you out in front to catch common colds, etc., when your immune system would ordinarily be strong enough to fight them off.  It affects your system of certain vitamins that help fight off minor infections.

Stress is not good for someone with a chronic illness like MS.  It kicks our immune systems into gear, putting us at possible risk for a relapse.

What did your radiology report say about your "small non-specific white matter lesions?"  White matter lesions don't just appear, with no known cause.  Do you have a Neurologist?  And why was the MRI ordered?  Looking for possible MS?

All of this is important for us to try and answer your question.  I am glad that you are practicing to be less of a "worrywart."  Stress isn't good for anyone.  Try not to sweat the small stuff.  Let the little things slide off your back.  Hard to do, but then you won't wind up like me...being a fifty something woman, who is a "worrywart."

Keep us posted.  We are so glad to have you with us.  Every member has something to contribute to the Forum whether you have a diagnosis or not.  Always remember that.  You are part of the "family" now...

Best Wishes,
well about a month ago i read the book "still alice" about a 50 year old woman who develops early-onset alzheimers.  being the worrywart i am, i noticed that i had been forgetful, had bumped into things, had trouble coming up with words, etc.  so, i panicked, convinced myself that i had alzheimers and headed to my doctor.  my doctor said she was pretty sure that i was fine but would run and MRI to give me peace of mind.  

while waiting for my MRI appointment i reveiwed my past medical history and noticed that i had a pretty crazy pattern going on - you see, i am a mother of two little girls (ages 2 and 4) that i adore.  my greatest fear is not being there for them.  a few years ago my husband and i were headed on a dream trip to norway but i could barely go as i was convinced my plane would crash and my daughter would never know how much i loved her.  it took several visits to a counselor to get me on that plane.  then a couple of years ago i had heart palpitations.  my doctor ran some tests, said everything looked fine but i was convinced that i would keel over from a heart attack and not be there for my girls.  so, i was SO CERTAIN that my MRI would come back clean and i would head off to a counselor to erradicate this latest fear.  

BUT THEN, my MRI came back with these non-specific white matter spots and now i am looking at the reality that there could very well be something wrong with me that is physical instead of entirely mental in nature.  my doctor mentioned MS and alzheimers when she called to tell me about the MRI.

i have an appointment with a neurologist at the end of the months.  i am dreading it - i am afraid of what she will say.  i so BADLY want to be there for my girls.  to be sane, to play, to plan for their future, to run, to have be.

also i currently do not have a radiologist - i think a radiologist just wrote up a report after my MRI and the neurologist i am seeing is going to review that with me.  does that sound right?

sigh.  thanks for listening.  

When an MRI is done, a radiologist reads it; I believe that for a brain  MRI it is generally a neuro-radiologist.  They are specially trained, and are very good at recognizing any abnorma findings.  They write a report.  A good neurologist will also read the MRI, not just the report.  I hope you have a good neurologist.

You have a right to a copy of that report (if you're in the US), all you have to do is go to the facility where you had the MRI done, request a copy of the report (I always get a CD of my MRI, too).  You will need to fill out a request for information form, but it is short, and you can usually get the report in a short amount of time; they might even print it out for you right then and there.

Do you have a regular therapist that you can talk to?  They can be so helpful in dealing with fears, wherever those fears are coming from.  I've had some truly wonderful ones.

The best way to be there for your girls is to be able to take whatever it is that life hands out.  MS is not a death sentence, should that be the cause of your small white matter lesions.  

Sorry I've missed your other posts, so I don't know what other testing you've had done.  Please try not to dread your appointment with you neurologist.  Try to see it as an opportunity to find out what's going on, or what's not going on.  It's one more step in finding the way to live your life the best you can.

Take good care of yourself,

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