Mental Health

Stop Taking Stress! It Only Increases Your Risk Of This Incurable Brain Disease!

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 12 July 2022, Updated on - 18 October 2022

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Stress is a part and parcel of today’s high-paced life. Experts reveal occasional stress is completely normal and is necessary to keep us alert and prepared to evade danger. However, persistent or chronic stress can cause several health conditions, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The article explains Alzheimer’s disease and its correlation with chronic stress in detail below.


Understanding Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurological disorder that begins with mild decline in memory but ultimately leads to total loss of cognitive function. The disease affects parts of the brain that regulate thought, memory, and language. In AD, neurons (brain cells) die and the brain begins to shrink (atrophy). As a result, the volume of the brain decreases significantly.

  • Symptoms: Over time, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease becomes unable to carry out daily activities independently. During the later stages of the disease, the damage to brain cells affect basic physical functions, such as swallowing, balance, and bowel and bladder control. 
  • Cause: Although there is no consensus on the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists suspect that a combination of factors such as genetic, lifestyle and environmental conditions that affect the brain over time might be responsible. 
  • Complications: Dehydration, malnutrition, and high susceptibility to infections are some of the complications from severe loss of brain function that often result in death.
  • Treatment: Currently, there is no way to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Available treatment options mostly focus on temporarily slowing down the worsening of symptoms and cognitive decline.


How can persistent stress result in Alzheimer’s disease?

Several theories and hypotheses have been put forth to explain the link between chronic stress and Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the most prominent ones are: 

1. Stress activates HPA axis

Major endocrine glands such as the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands belong to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). HPA axis plays an important role in stress management, digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions. When the body is subjected to severe stress, HPA starts releasing high levels of cortisol hormone (stress hormone). Excess cortisol can increase the risk of depression, anxiety and early-onset dementia, all of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. High cortisol levels can also damage the memory centre of the brain and adversely affect the ability to acquire and retain new information. 

2. Stress increases the beta-amyloid levels 

According to studies conducted on animal models, stress can increase the build-up of beta-amyloid in brain cells. Beta-amyloid is a toxic protein that allows the accumulation of plaque in the brain and can result in Alzheimer’s disease. 

3. Stress causes Tau tangles

Tau is a small protein whose primary function is to stabilize the internal skeleton of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Tangling of these tau proteins can cause the death of neurons. According to studies, stress can is one of the contributing factors for tau tangles. 


How can you reduce persistent stress? 

Stress is something that can be managed with just changes to lifestyle. Some of the effective ways to reduce stress are: 

  • Exercise regularly: Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. 
  • Eat a balanced diet: A nutritious diet that includes green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds can decrease your risk for nutritional deficiencies and lift your mood. 
  • Reduce screen time: Spending too much time in front of TVs, computers, and smartphones is associated with poor psychological well-being and increased risk of stress. Reducing screen time can minimize stress significantly.
  • Connect with family and friends: Sharing your feelings and experiences with closed ones can help relieve stress significantly. 
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation are some of the relaxation techniques that can help you manage stress and protect your body from the ill-effects of stress.



Stress is a normal reaction of the body to difficult situations. However, prolonged or chronic stress can wreak havoc on our physical and mental well-being. Health experts suggest managing stress to prevent long-term neurological damage. If you wish to consult a mental health expert for the same,


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Medically reviewed by Sonia Bhatt.


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