Does Chronic Pain Increase Dementia Risk
Chronic pain is a growing problem and affects half of older adults who live on their own and up to 85% of those in care facilities . A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that people with chronic pain had a more rapid memory decline and a faster increase in dementia probability compared to those without it .
These findings come from a large, long-term study of 10,065 people over age 62. Researchers asked questions about pain and cognition every other year from 1998 through 2012. Participants who reported that they often had moderate or severe pain in both 1998 and 2000 were considered to have chronic pain. After adjusting for many variables, people with chronic pain had on average a 9.2% faster memory decline and a 7.7% faster increase in dementia probability. Over the next decade, those with chronic pain were more likely to be unable to manage their finances or their medications, two important tasks for independent living.
Chronic pain can impact cognitive function in several ways. It increases levels of stress hormones, which can impact brain structures involved in cognitive health . Chronic pain can also divert attention, making it more difficult to perform cognitive and memory tasks . And chronic pain can interfere with good quality sleep, which is important for optimal cognitive function .
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Relieving Anxiety May Prevent Dementia
If a stress response that is triggered by anxiety is to blame for accelerated cognitive decline, does this mean that alleviating anxiety would keep dementia at bay?
This remains an open question, the authors write. However, they suggest, non-pharmacological anti-anxiety treatment options are worth trying.
In this regard, Gimson and her colleagues conclude:
Non-pharmacological therapies, including talking therapies, mindfulness-based interventions, and meditation practices, that are known to reduce anxiety in midlife, could have a risk-reducing effect, although this is yet to be thoroughly researched.
Take Action To Reduce Stress
- Take personal time for yourself. Exercise, relaxation, entertainment, hobbies and socializing are essential parts of our health and well-being. Everyone needs to find a balance that limits stress and helps maintain optimal health.
- Identify unrealistic expectations and try to accept what can not be changed.
- Seek and accept support.
- Utilize a variety of stress reduction methods.
- Prepare ahead new or unfamiliar situations can create stress and anxiety.
- Get plenty of sleep.
Note:;Your abilities, health situation and interests should be taken into consideration when choosing brain healthy activities. If you have questions about your own situation, speak to your doctor or health-care provider.
There are no guarantees, but healthy lifestyle choices will help keep your brain as healthy as possible as you age.
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Emotional Causes Of Memory Loss
Because our mind and body are connected and affect each other, our emotions and thoughts can impact our brain. The energy it takes to cope with certain feelings or life stress;can get in the way of storing or remembering details and schedules.
Often, these emotional triggers of memory loss can be improved by support, counseling, and lifestyle changes. Even just being aware ofand limiting exposure tothings that increase stress can help.
Dementia Stress And Mental Health: Understanding The Connection
Particularly if dementia runs in your family, you may feel fearful about what your future holds. While the news that stress is linked to dementia can cause you to stress about your stress, dont panic just yet. Stress is something you have significant control over. Mounting evidence that its linked to dementia suggests that people might actually be able to lower their dementia risk by lowering their stress.
Studies on the role of stress in dementia are still relatively new. More research will have to test the apparent correlation between dementia and stress. Researchers also dont yet understand how stress might cause dementia. Heres what the research tells us so far:
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The Link Between Anxiety And Dementia
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 40 million adults over the age of 18, which represents a total of 18% of the population. Anxiety can be brought on by stressful life events, or it may simply be due to your personality, genetics, or even in your brain chemistry.
Anxiety is highly treatable through professional care, therapy or medication. However, its fairly common for those with anxiety to not seek the treatment they need. In fact, only about one-third of anxiety sufferers receive any sort of treatment. When left untreated, anxiety disorders can have damaging short-term effects, and more recently, researchers have begun studying the long-term effects of these symptoms, too.
When To Seek Help
If you think there’s something else going on – and your memory problems are more serious and persistent – it may be time for a medical check-up.
“Memory problems can also be caused by an underactive thyroid gland, drinking too much alcohol, medication side-effects, vitamin B12 deficiency;etc, and these can be addressed,” says Dr Graham. “They have other symptoms or clinical signs, to differentiate them from memory problems due to mental health.”
Of course, this is not to imply that mental health issues are somehow less serious than physical ones. If stress, anxiety or depression is the culprit – common at a time of COVID-19 – then getting help for this should improve your memory too.
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As A Care Worker How Can You Help
There are many conditions and circumstances where you may see signs and symptoms that may be confused with dementia. As a care worker, it is not your responsibility to try to diagnose the condition. However, as you may be the one person who sees the individual on a regular basis, you are well placed to notice any changes. Encouraging an older person to visit their GP on a regular basis can help them to maintain their general health and wellbeing.
Managing Emotions And The Stress Of Living With Dementia
Living with dementia is not easy. You will go through a variety of emotions â and that’s normal. This page provides strategies used by people living with dementia that can help you handle the emotional toll that dementia can bring.
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Anxiety And Demographic Characteristics
In older adults without dementia, anxiety has been associated with reduced QoL, more functional limitations, poorer physical health and reduced activities . In individuals with dementia, three studies have documented the relationship between anxiety and poorer QoL, with correlations ranging from .30 to .64 . In one study , the association remained significant after controlling for depression, problem behaviors and dependency. Other variables of interest were not controlled for in the other two studies .
Could Stress Lead To Dementia
It’s a good thing that Obamacare has passed, because it looks like more and more of us are going to need it. Alzheimers disease is projected to affect 80 million people in the next 20 years, and we’re only in our infancy of understanding the cause of this most common form of dementia. Recent years, however, have brought to light some interesting and startling links, and researchers are beginning to understand more about how the disease spreads through the brain, and indeed how it may begin. And while there are probably several origins, one of the triggers may be, alarmingly, something many of us experience: Stressful life events.
A new study from Britain will look further into the connection between chronic stress and the development of dementia. The concept that lifetime stressors could trigger the development of the disease, or at least facilitate the leap from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown dementia, has gained momentum in recent years, and researchers are starting to devote more resources to exploring the relationship more fully.
Earlier work had pointed to the fact that indeed in mice, the stress hormones are linked to higher levels of amyloid precursor protein and tau protein, which is seen in Alzheimers;and;in other forms of dementia. Since humans with Alzheimers are known to have higher levels of the stress hormones, the authors suggest that the hormones are not a consequence of the disease, but, perhaps, a cause.
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Strategies To Help You Manage Grief
- Feel the pain. Allow yourself to really feel what you are feeling, no matter what that is. Denying your feelings only intensifies and prolongs the pain.
- Talk about what your grief. Share the pain. It’s important to talk about your feelings even at the most difficult times. Sharing grief will help diminish it. It can be helpful to talk to a person outside the family, such as a counsellor or trusted friend. Joining an Alzheimer Society support group gives you the opportunity to talk with others who are on a similar journey.
- Keep a journal. A journal is a private place where anything can be written including unfulfilled wishes, guilt, anger and any other thoughts and feelings. A journal is a place where you can explore your frustrations and express your thoughts and ideas without interruption.
- Find comfort. Different people have different ways of finding comfort. For many there is comfort in rituals, such as prayer, meditation or other activities.
- Hold off. Tread carefully before making decisions. Thoroughly explore all options before making major steps. You may be unable to make important decisions at times.
Actions For Positive Changes
After ensuring there is no environmental trigger, medical causes or medication side effect contributing to the patient’s change in behavior, other interventions are often recommended. Treatments to decrease neuropsychiatric symptoms and improve the patient’s comfort and mood can be as simple as redirecting the patient’s focus, increasing social interaction, initiating enjoyable activities, and eliminating sources of conflict. Establishing routines and providing comforting stimulation, such as the patient’s favorite music or films, can be beneficial in decreasing agitation. Creating a daily schedule that is posted in the home, keeping window curtains open to ensure the patient is oriented to time of day, and scheduling regularly timed meals can increase the patient’s comfort and decrease the risk of disorientation and behavioral symptoms. As a caregiver, learning strategies to modify your style of interaction with patients to minimize neuropsychiatric symptoms may help decrease your own level of frustration and distress.
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A Condition That Can Fool Even Experienced Doctors
In fact, Mrs. M was suffering from delirium, at that time called acute organic brain syndrome that results in rapidly changing mental states, and causes confusion and changes in behavior. She returned to her previous healthy cognitive status very quickly after her eye patches were removed and her post-operative recovery continued.
The lesson I learned from her recovery was that delirium can fool even experienced doctors into misdiagnosing dementia, which is now called Major Neurocognitive Disorder . Confustion, disorientation, and memory impairment are signs of delirium that are shared with MaND.
Delirium looks very different, though, in other ways. It comes on rapidly, often after a medical or surgical event or toxic combination of medications. It is accompanied by shifting alertness, resulting in moments of sleepiness alternating with moments of agitation. Delirium is more often associated with visual hallucinations or psychotic delusions than MaND. And, most importantly, delirium can often be reversed once the cause is found and treated.
Its causes are many and include infection, metabolic disturbances, toxic medication reactions, withdrawal from alcohol, and the effects of head injury, just to name a few.
What makes this especially tragic is that distinguishing delirium from MaND is usually not too difficult and just requires careful attention to history, symptoms, physical and mental status examinations, and the results of common laboratory tests.
How Stress Affects Short
“Having memory problems is quite a common experience when we are very stressed, anxious or depressed,” says psychiatrist Dr Karen Graham. “It can be harder to focus, think clearly, and learn new information. When we’re preoccupied about a stressful issue or have a busy worrying mind, then we’re distracted instead of being fully attentive. Depression can also make it difficult to focus well on what we’re doing.”
She adds that many mental health issues can impact our quality of sleep, resulting in reduced alertness throughout the day. It means information is less likely to get encoded properly as ‘working memory’ – the part of the memory system that’s involved with day-to-day tasks. Short-term memory, then, is often the first thing to suffer at times of ongoing stress and anxiety.
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The Challenges Of Caregiving
It can be very challenging to care for a loved one with dementia who develops neuropsychiatric symptoms Ã¢â¬â even with simple, everyday and mundane tasks like eating. It is important to reach out to health care providers, both for the individual with dementia as well as for yourself, in order to ensure the physical and mental health of both caregiver and receiver. Many resources are available online and locally which may be useful in helping you care for your loved ones. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association is a nationwide organization devoted to research on Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to directing patients and their families towards local caregiving resources. More information about the Alzheimer’s Association can be found at: http://www.alz.org/. The National Institute of Mental Health is another nationwide organization devoted to the treatment of mental illness, including dementia, which can be useful for identifying treatment directions, and for assisting caregivers with supportive resources. More information about the National Institute of Mental Health can be found at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dementia.html
Research Suggests Stress And Anxiety Can Damage Areas Of Brain Involved In Emotional Responses Thinking And Memory
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Too much stress in your life can ultimately lead to depression and dementia, scientists have warned.
A major review of published research suggests that chronic stress and anxiety can damage areas of the brain involved in emotional responses, thinking and memory, leading to depression and even Alzheimers disease.
Dr Linda Mah, the lead author of the review carried out at a research institute affiliated to the University of Toronto, said: Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.
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Anxiety Harms Your Memory Recall
Anxiety happens when worrisome thoughts continually play in your head. This constant mental stress will empty your energy reserves. It becomes harder to remember new information and to recall old information. Your brain becomes locked in a pattern of anxiety and leaves no room for new memories to form, which makes it difficult to get a full night of sleep. Sleep is the time when our brain consolidates new memories and what we learned throughout the day.
A;study out of the University of California;has found that losing sleep can make your brain susceptible to the type of memory loss connected to dementia.
Brain Tip:;Consider therapy to reduce the stress of anxiety such as:
The Clinical Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease And Stress
While many studies have applied stress in animals and observed accelerated AD pathogenesis, demonstrating the impact of stress in humans has proven difficult. The vast majority of clinical or epidemiological studies have provided evidence for the converse arc of the Vicious Cycle of Stress. Early stage AD-related dementia is associated with elevated Cort and anxiety-related neuropsychiatric conditions that correlate with increased disease risk. This was first shown in cohorts of patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment . Patients with MCI have higher average circulating Cort levels at all diurnal time points in the daily oscillation of Cort, compared to age matched controls . In addition, dementia patients show decreased dexamethasone suppression of Cortisol release, indicating impaired negative feedback on the HPA axis . Follow-up studies found that higher levels of circulating Cort correlate with more rapidly advancing disease . These findings suggest that a hyperactive HPA axis is an indication of more advanced disease. Elevated HPA axis activity and resulting increases in Cort release, in turn, would be predicted to accelerate and intensify disease progression.
Strategies To Help You Manage Depression
- Don’t carry the burden alone. Talk to people who can help you deal with your feelings, like a good friend or a trusted member of your family.
- Try some activities that can help take your mind off your worries. This could be playing your favourite music, gardening, taking a walk, caring for pets, or anything else that helps you feel better. These activities can have a beneficial effect.
- Be kind to yourself. Be patient with your feelings. Find a balance between the happy and sad person, the angry and peaceful, and the guilty and glad self. Have patience with yourself.
- Learn to laugh again. Rediscover your sense of humour. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or spend time with a friend who makes you laugh.
- Talk to your doctor. If the feelings of sadness and hopelessness become overwhelming, make an appointment to see your doctor. Professional counselling may be recommended or medication may be considered.
Chronic Stress Anxiety Can Damage The Brain Increase Risk Of Major Psychiatric Disorders
- Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
- People need to find ways to reduce chronic stress and anxiety in their lives or they may be at increased risk for developing depression and even dementia, a new scientific review paper warns.
A scientific review paper warns that people need to find ways to reduce chronic stress and anxiety in their lives or they may be at increased risk for developing depression and even dementia.
Led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, the review examined brain areas impacted by chronic anxiety, fear and stress in animal and human studies that are already published. The authors concluded that there is “extensive overlap” of the brain’s neurocircuitry in all three conditions, which may explain the link between chronic stress and the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
The paper is posted online this month in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry.
“Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex , which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia,” said Dr. Linda Mah, clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and lead author of the review.
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