In Brief: Fighting fear with a stress hormone

In Brief

Fighting fear with a stress hormone

Published: August, 2006

Swiss researchers have found that artificially raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is normally released by the adrenal glands in frightening situations, can paradoxically relieve performance anxiety and phobias.

In one experiment, 20 people with severe performance anxiety (social phobia) were divided into two groups that took a dose of either cortisone (which the body transforms into cortisol) or a placebo. An hour later they were surprised with a request to give a speech and do mental arithmetic before an audience and while being filmed.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »