Does stress damage the brain?

  title={Does stress damage the brain?},
  author={James Douglas Bremner},
  journal={Biological Psychiatry},
  • J. Bremner
  • Published 1 April 1999
  • Psychology, Biology
  • Biological Psychiatry

Figures from this paper

Are the neural substrates of memory the final common pathway in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Brain-Imaging Studies of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
The literature on structural, functional, and neurochemical brain-imaging studies of PTSD is reviewed to suggest neuromodulatory systems (eg, γ-aminobutyric acid, μ-opioid) may underlie these aberrant brain activation patterns.
Structural Brain Changes in PTSD
Research is moving toward the recognition of different biomarkers that would indicate the presence of clinically significant symptoms and a predisposition or increased risk of developing post‐traumatic stress disorder, which can be made by increasing the number of studies, number of partici‐ pants, and number of different methodologies.
Traumatic Stress, Brain Changes, and Memory Deficits: A Critical Note
It is concluded that most studies on changes in hippocampal volume and memory performance in posttraumatic stress disorder suffer from methodological weaknesses and therefore do no allow for firm conclusions about the causal linkage among traumatic stress, hippocampal functioning, and memory.
Glucocorticoids, depression, and mood disorders: structural remodeling in the brain.
  • B. McEwen
  • Psychology, Biology
    Metabolism: clinical and experimental
  • 2005
Hippocampal volume reduction in major depression.
These findings are consistent with smaller left hippocampal volume in depression, and were significant after brain size, alcohol exposure, age, and education were controlled for.
Grey Matter Changes in the Brain Following Stress and Trauma
The pathophysiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by a heightened sensitivity to certain stimuli perceived to be threatening, followed by inability to extinguish the resulting fear, which constitutes an essential step in informing the detection and treatment of the disorder.
Brain Integrity and Cerebral Atrophy in Vietnam Combat Veterans with and without Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Estimates of brain integrity were determined by estimating gray and white matter regional brain volumes using structural magnetic resonance imaging in six patients with PTSD and in five controls with comparable trauma exposure but without clinical evidence of PTSD.
Neuropsychological processes in post-traumatic stress disorder.


MRI-based measurement of hippocampal volume in patients with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder.
A smaller right hippocampal volume in PTSD that is associated with functional deficits in verbal memory is consistent with high levels of cortisol associated with stress.
Prevention of stress-induced morphological and cognitive consequences
Learning and memory in combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.
OBJECTIVE The authors investigated a broad range of memory functions for stimuli unrelated to trauma to determine whether symptoms such as intrusive memories might reflect an underlying cognitive
Brain activation in PTSD in response to trauma-related stimuli
Attention and memory dysfunction in posttraumatic stress disorder.
Results suggest that intrusion of traumatic memories in PTSD may not be limited to trauma-related cognitions but instead reflects a more general pattern of disinhibition.
Magnetic resonance imaging volumes of the hippocampus and the amygdala in women with borderline personality disorder and early traumatization.
In female patients with BPD, the authors found reduction of the volumes of the hippocampus (and perhaps of the amygdala), but the association of volume reduction and traumatic experiences remains unclear.
Hippocampal damage associated with prolonged and fatal stress in primates
Sustained exposure to glucocorticoids (GCs), adrenal hormones secreted during stress, can cause neural degeneration in the rat. This is particularly so in the hippocampus, a principal neural target