While many studies have examined the relationship between stress and dementia, there is no general consensus on what the relationship is, or even whether such a relationship exists at all (Fountoulakis, 2011; Wang, 2012). This literature review consequently considers a broad range of hypotheses on the topic. The central focus of this review was to identify what aspects of stress – throughout life – increase the likelihood of dementia in the elderly. The available research indicates that there is indeed a relationship between stress and dementia, and that stress interacts with dementia risk in multiple ways. There is, first of all, significant evidence to support the hypothesis that chronic stress leads to excessive cortisol release, and that excessive cortisol release damages the brain in ways that can lead to dementia. There is, secondly, significant correlation evidence to suggest that stress interacts with low intellectual stimulation, and that both stress and low intellectual stimulation predict the onset of dementia. Both of these pathways to dementia present multiple opportunities for clinical intervention. This literature review therefore directs some focus toward what aspects of stress would seem to be conducive to treatment. It was found that there are a number of stress interventions that could and should be implemented in large segments of the population. This review, though, fails to completely isolate the effects of stress, and consequently can only suggest a few general interventions. There is still much research that could be done in the area and more specific interventions to be discovered.
Kuck, Andrew, "The Relationship between Stress and Dementia: An Investigation of Physiological and Psychological Connections across the Lifespan" (2014). Honors Projects. 328.