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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Most mental health problems associated with psychological distress originate with activation of centrally regulated stress pathways, yet a diverse range of central nervous system and somatic disease states can be influenced by exposure to severe or unrelenting stress. The goal of this chapter is to provide a conceptual framework to guide the development of pharmacological intervention strategies. We propose that careful consideration of the relationship between the timing of stressful life experiences, pharmacological intervention, and the ultimate expression of disease symptomatology is critical for the development of pharmacological interventions to treat stress-related disorders. We review a range of physiological systems that are known to be activated by stress, offering potentially new targets for drug development efforts, and argue that participant selection is a key predictor of drug efficacy trials. In doing so, we point toward inflammatory signaling pathways as a potential final common mediator of multiple stress-related disease states.

Keywords: stress, cytokines, inflammation, pharmacotherapy, stress-related disorders, anxiety, depression, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, sympathetic nervous system, review

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