Brain Health Questions: How does stress affect brain health?

Our webinar with Dr. Bruce Price on July 27 sparked some interesting questions on brain health from our participants. Since Dr. Price wasn’t able to answer all of them during the webinar, we thought we’d tackle some common ones here. These answers come from Dr. Haythum Tayeb, a behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry fellow in Dr. Price’s department of neurology at McLean Hospital.

Q. How does stress affect brain health?

A. Stress, anxiety and depression can all negatively influence cognitive performance because of their effects on attention and concentration. Stress activates the cortisol system, which has specific effects on the brain.

Maintaining an active social and mental life is associated with better cognitive outcomes, however, and stress avoidance should not lead to an attitude of intellectual retirement. Seeking to remain intellectually active, and engaging in a motivating endeavor that does not induce pathological stress can increase cognitive reserve, which buffers cognitive dysfunction later in life.

The information provided here is intended for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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