Drugs on Stress Perception and Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

It was found that academic exam stress caused significant increases in PSS and STAI scores, which were related to high levels of serum, significantly more so in males than females, who only had an increase in serum sgp130 when taking birth control drugs. Males were found to have significantly more serum sCD8. The results suggest that psychological stress induces immune-inflammatory changes with complex regulatory responses in IL-6 signaling, decreased anti-inflammatory capacity of serum and interactions with T-cell and monocytic activation. The results of this study also suggest that sex hormones may modify stress-induced immune-inflammatory responses (Song et al. p. 293).

Anxiolytic drugs of the benzodiazepine class and other drugs that affect catecholamine, GABAA, histamine and serotonin receptors, alter the stress response and regulate stress hormone secretion. It has been shown that exposure to hostile conditions induces lowered immune system and cardiovascular responses, as well as neural circuits and neurotransmitter system responses. It also initiates the secretion of several hormones, including corticosterone/cortisol, catecholamines, prolactin, oxytocin, and renin, as part of the survival mechanism (Van de Kar, p. 1). In each of these the three manifestations of stress, external, internal and psychological "stressors," there are hormones released in response to the stressors referred to as stress hormones, which are regulated by neural circuits from hypothalamic neurons that are the final output toward the pituitary gland and the kidneys. The forebrain has circuits mediating neuroendocrine responses to stressors and emphasizing neuroendocrine systems that have previously received little attention as stress-sensitive hormones: renin, oxytocin, and prolactin. Anxiolytic drugs of the benzodiazepine class and other drugs, alter the stress response and stress hormone secretion (Van de Kar, p. 1).

Steven Harris, a theoretician on brain activity, believes that any medication of the brain is ultimately damaging and creates stress and damage to the delicate pathways in the brain. Medications as they now exist, cause increased stress to the system. The current model of targeting a symptom, while ignoring the side effects that may be more damaging, he believes, is wrong. Drugs, as far as Harris is concerned, create stress, eventual damage and ultimately decrease brain function. (Harris, para. 5).


While studies have been consistent in showing that medications have an effect on the brain under stress, stress perception may be altered by circuitously avoiding the effects of normal neurotransmissions by inducing the ability maintain serotonin, such as in ecstasy and Prozac. Stress may be adapted to by the use of other drugs, such as Inderal, allowing the body to function as it would normally would under stress-free situations, by altering the response to stress in the brain. However, it has always been noted that there are variables, such as hormones, gender and newly discovered neuroendocrine systems that respond to stressors that affect the effect of drugs in sometimes predictable ways.

DeNoon, D. (2005). Drug counters mental effect of stress. Annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Washington: Ohio State University. Retrieved at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/517206.

Harris, S.M. (2005). Unified theory of the nervous system and behavior. Retrieved at http://www.stevenharris.com/theory/139.html.

Maes, M., Song, C., Lin, a., deJohng, R., van Gastel, a, Kenis, G., et al. (1999). The effects of psychological stress on humans: increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and a th1-like response in stress-induced anxiety. Clinical Research Center for Mental Health. Antwerp, Belgium. Retrieved at http://paperairplane.mit.edu/16.423J/Space/SBE/projects/Immunology/REFERENC/MAES1998.PDF.

Song, C, Kenis, G., van Gastel, a., Bosmans, E., Lin, a., de Jong, R., Neels, H., Scharpe, et al. (1999). Influence of psychological stress on immune-inflammatory variables in normal humans. Part II. Altered serum concentrations of natural anti-inflammatory agents and soluble membrane antigens of monocytes and T. lymphocytes. Psychiatry Research, Vol. 85, 3. Retrieved at http://www.psy-journal.com/article/PIIS0165178199000128/abstract.

Tait, M. (2007). Music 'enhances ecstasy effects.' Focus. Retrieved at http://www.geocities.com/Omegaman_UK/drugs.html.

Van de Kar, L.D., Blair, M.L. (1999). Forebrain pathways mediating stress-induced hormone secretion. PubMed: A service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Chicago: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine.

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