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Stress activates a neurochemical response in the brain that triggers a release of gluocorticoids, which is known not to be good for you cognitively. High levels of gluocorticoids are associated with such psychiatric conditions as schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Alzheimer’s disease.

High levels of glucorticoids can cause damage brain nerve cells by activating an enzyme that causes oxidative stress. Even a single exposure to a high dose of glucorticoids can be sufficient enough to damage nerve cells. Previous studies that used synthetic gluocorticoids to treat autoimmune disorders showed that it can induce mood disorders, including psychosis and cognitive impairment, known as “steroid dementia” in severe cases.

The high blood pressure medication (also prescribed as an antipsychotic medication), Prazosin, appears to block the increase of glucorticoids. For someone taking a steroid, which is known to cause cognitive impairment in both rats and people, researchers hope to find a way to protect cognition by the use of the drug. For glucorticoids to be effective against PTSD the drug would need to be administered before the traumatic event.

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  • Lance M. January 27, 2012, 6:19 pm

    I am about to get a va disability heraring after waiting for 41 years.I have 3rd nerve palsey and a 7th nerve damage. The years have brought to me a number of bouts with Bells Palsey and more cases of shingles than you can imagine even though I have had the vaccine. This article may highlight a claim that I have been making for many years and just waiting for the research to catch up. If you can assist me I will be most appreciative.