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Stress and Alzheimer’s Disease

With the holidays upon us, are your nerves fraying under the combined pressures of work deadlines, shopping, decorating, and entertaining? Now may be a good time to sit back and consider the effects of stress on the brain. Stress per se is not a cause of AD, experts agree, but some evidence indicates that high chronic stress can raise one’s risk of getting the disease or exacerbate its symptoms.

Supporting this, animal models show that severe stress worsens AD pathology. These studies are helping researchers uncover biological mechanisms and pinpoint therapeutic targets, but they are still in the early days. Many questions remain, including how much and what type of stress might be harmful, and just how big a role it plays in dementia. To get to the bottom of these issues, Madolyn Rogers spoke with leading researchers in the field.