Stress and Alzheimer’s Disease

alzheimer doctor holds ribbon for stress and dementia alzheimer research

At any given moment in the world, researchers are trying to figure out causes, as well as prevention, for Alzheimer’s disease. With each passing moment new research is released that can help shed light onto what causes this disease that affects over five million people worldwide, and possible ways to prevent it.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of neurodegenerative brain disease that falls under the umbrella of dementia. It primarily affects those over the age of 65. However, many people under the age of 65 are also affected by this disease. In fact, over 200,000 reported cases worldwide affect those under the age of 65. It is the cause of 60-70% of cases of dementia.

Those with Alzheimer’s disease can show many symptoms, but the main symptom is the difficulty in remembering recent events, also known as short-term memory loss. Aging seniors can show signs of short-term memory loss without having Alzheimer’s disease, however. The disease can also include symptoms like: language problems, mood swings, disorientation, loss of motivation, and more.

Once Alzheimer’s sets in, those with the disease will gradually lose bodily functions, ultimately resulting in death. The speed of progression of the disease is different with each person, and there are medications that can help reduce symptoms and the speed of the disease, but the typical life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.

Studies

Researchers are still trying to figure out why people get Alzheimer’s disease. They believe that the main factors are genetic, age, family history, and others. New research, however, believes that stress can play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The research came from the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The type of stress that they were studying is a type called vital exhaustion. This is a type of stress that is seriously debilitating and can last for a considerably longer amount of time that just typical, day-to-day stress. Symptoms of vital exhaustion are irritability, depression, feelings of demoralization, and fatigue.

The study revealed that those participating in the study had high amounts of stress in their lives and that they had a 25% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, although some had as high as a 40% higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those without stress. This research shows that stress can play a vital role in the development of this disease. Researchers already knew that stress can have numerous effects on our bodies, but this correlation with Alzheimer’s helps shed new light on the disease.

Vital exhaustion has been described as severe psychological distress. Those that experience this have had symptoms of vital exhaustion over a long duration of time. Other studies that took place with vital exhaustion reveal that it can also play a huge role in raising the risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and premature death.

Another risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease can include diabetes. Diabetes can impact blood vessels, which Alzheimer’s disease is also known to do.

Conclusion

This new study can help, however. By showing a correlation between extreme stress and Alzheimer’s disease, figuring out a way to treat the stress at a younger age may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, or at least slow the progression.

Bonaventure Senior Living

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Filed in Memory Care Senior Health