Stress and Alzheimer's disease

J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2019 Sep;126(9):1155-1161. doi: 10.1007/s00702-019-01988-z. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia worldwide. Due to demographic change in higher income countries and rising life expectancy in middle- and low-income countries, the prevalence of AD will increase significantly in the coming years. In the search for effective AD prevention, the role of stress in the development of AD has come into focus. There is increasing evidence that chronic exposure to stress is a risk factor for AD and may also adversely affect the course of the disease. In our review, we present the current literature on the association of specific personality traits and the risk of developing AD. We also report on findings on dementia risk in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, we describe the role of anxiety symptoms in AD and give a brief overview over the biological mechanisms behind the association of stress and AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Anxiety; Cortisol; Neuroticism; Posttraumatic stress disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Humans
  • Personality*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*