Stress And Dementia
With the fast and frenetic pace we live in, stress has become a commonplace feature in the daily lives of many people the world over. Whether it involves the burden of busy schedules or the struggle to simply make a living, stress adds to the difficulties of many of life's endeavors.
There are, of course, health consequences to all this stress. In addition to the emotional pain and suffering, stress has been linked to a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, depression, and certain cancers.
Health care professionals now believe that psychological stress during middle age can also contribute to the development of dementia later in life, particularly for Alzheimer's disease. The study, published in the journal Brain, is part of a larger population study and the first of its kind to suggest a link between stress and dementia.
In order to arrive at their findings, researchers followed 1,415 women, between the ages of 38 and 60, for 35 years. The study began in 1968 with follow-up examinations in 1974, 1980, 1992, and 2000. Levels of stress were determined via questionnaires at three time points: 1968, 1974, and 1980. Stress was defined as a feeling of irritation, tension, anxiety, or nervousness as well as trouble sleeping due to work, health, or family problems.
Over the course of the study, 161 of the subjects developed dementia, mostly in the form of Alzheimer's disease. According to the data, women who indicated a continuous levels of stress had a 65% higher risk than women who reported no stress. The women who reported feeling stress at all three time points had twice the risk as women who were not stressed.
The authors of the study hope that the research will lead to a better understanding and identification of potential risk factors for dementia, but they also indicate that more work needs to be done.
In the meantime, it is probably fair to say that the reduction of stress in a person's life is not a bad thing, and is in fact a very good thing. Even though stress has become so prevalent in our lives, it doesn't discount the effects that it can have over time.
It is important to keep in mind that not all stress is bad. In many instances, stress is a normal bodily reaction to everyday life and can even be beneficial. However, when your body is under constant assault from stress, the effects can exact a toll on your health over time.
It is for this reason that it is important to be cognizant of stress and learn to manage it effectively. If you have questions or concerns about the stress in your life, speak with your doctor. For information about stress management, visit the website for the National Library of Medicine.