The people, who are regularly exposed to stressful situations in adulthood, are more likely to suffer from dementia in old age, The Telegraph writes. According to the scientists, those who are faced with adverse life experience undergo physiological changes in the brain.
This conclusion is based on the 40-year-long examination of mental health and well-being of 800 residents of Sweden. The women, born in 1914-1930, passed several neuropsychiatric tests. They were assessed every 10 years since 1968.
During the experiment, the participants were asked about the impact of 18 common causes of stress on them, including divorce, widowhood, serious illness, death of a child, mental disorders, alcohol addiction of one of the family members, lack of work and poor social support. The experts recorded the symptoms appearing in the participants (irritability, anxiety, insomnia), and the frequency of their occurrence in the past five years.
In 1968, one in four women experienced stress at least once, 23% were in a stressful situation twice, and 16% happened to be in stressful situations four times or more. In the period from 1968 to 2006, one in five women developed dementia (19%), and 104 women were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Those who were regularly exposed to stress at the age of 35-54 years, had a 21% higher risk of developing various types of dementia.
Each one of us experiences a stressful situation at a certain stage of life. Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society says that understanding how this can affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease is extremely important. This will help the scientists find the ways to treat and prevent stress.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.