What Brain Scans Show
Stressed brains generally have a reduced volume of the hippocampusa deep brain structure essential for memory formation. During times of stress, hippocampal cells are thought to be sacrificed for the sake of other brain cells, such as those in the amygdala, essential in the stress/fear response.
Its a chicken and egg situation, however: does the stress cause the brain shrinkage , or does an already-reduced hippocampal volume instead lead to stress, because of memory impairment making daily living harder?
Could Anxiety Lead To Dementia
A recent study suggests that living with moderate to severe anxiety in midlife may lead to dementia in later years.
The new research was carried out by a team of scientists led by Amy Gimson, a researcher at the University of Southamptons Faculty of Medicine in the United Kingdom.
Gimson and her colleagues observed that more and more studies were highlighting a link between mental health problems and late-onset dementia the most prevalent form of dementia, which affects people around the age of 65.
For instance, the authors of the new study write that depression has been shown to boost the risk of Alzheimers by almost twofold.
Anxiety often occurs together with depression, and symptoms of anxiety have often been reported by people years before receiving a diagnosis of dementia.
But until now, it has remained unclear whether these associations mean that anxiety and depression are the first symptoms that appear before the full-blown form of dementia develops, or whether anxiety and depression are independent risk factors.
So, to investigate this, Gimson and her team sifted through 3,500 studies in search of papers that examined the link between midlife depression, with or without anxiety, and late-onset dementia.
The findings of their meta-analysis were published in the journal BMJ Open.
Study Linking Dementia To Anti
An article published online in the prestigious;British Medical Journal;found a link between dementia and the use of anti-anxiety medications such as Valium, Xanax and other benzodiazepines . The researchers examined almost 9,000 older adults for 6 years after the use of the medication for insomnia or anxiety. ;People in their study were 51% more likely to develop dementia if they had ever taken benzodiazepines, and the longer they took the drugs the more likely they were to develop it.;;However, anxiety and sleep disorders could be early symptoms of dementia, rather than caused by dementia. This study didnt examine whether using the drugs occurred before or after dementia started.; Since dementia usually takes years to develop, and this study only followed patients for 6 years, it is very likely that many of these patients were already developing the disease before taking benzodiazepines. The study was also missing information about other risk factors that the patients may have had for Alzheimers, such as smoking and alcohol use.
More information about pesticide use and Alzheimers can be found;here.
More information about these signs and symptoms can be found;here.
All articles are reviewed and approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.
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Can Dementia Get Worse Suddenly
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time. The speed of deterioration differs between individuals. Age, general health and the underlying disease causing brain damage will all affect the pattern of progression. However, for some people the decline can be sudden and rapid.
Understanding The Connection Between Stroke And Dementia
While not every stroke survivor will experience dementia, loss of blood flow to the brain can increase the persons risk of cognitive decline.
However, by practicing cognitive rehabilitation and making certain lifestyle changes, patients can improve their symptoms and even slow vascular dementias progression.
Finally, always remember that even with post-stroke dementia, it is still possible to live a happy and fulfilling life. Although the road ahead might look difficult, its important to maintain hope.
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How To Cope With Stress
Current evidence is inconclusive whether prolonged stress increases your risk of dementia. However, its still a good idea to do things that relieve stress. Stress reduction can reduce your risk of other conditions like heart disease. Here are a few tips to cope with stress.
Is There A Link Between Stress And Dementia
The link between Alzheimers and stress needs to be further examined, but researchers believes that stress can cause inflammation in the brain, making the brain more susceptible to health problems like dementia. Stress can also lead to depression, a known risk factor for Alzheimers and related forms of the disease.
How Can A Stroke Cause Dementia
To understand how a stroke can cause dementia, lets look at the connection between the brain, the arteries, and a stroke.
A stroke occurs when the supply of blood in the brain becomes disrupted by either a clogged or burst artery. When brain cells do not receive enough blood, they are deprived of oxygen and other essential nutrients, which can lead to brain damage. For this reason, a stroke requires swift medical attention to restore normal blood flow in the brain and save the persons life.
The health of your arteries has a direct impact on your risk of stroke. When blood can flow freely through clear arteries, the risk of stroke is low. The risk of stroke increases when arteries become narrowed or damaged from conditions like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
But how can a stroke cause dementia? When a stroke causes damage to the brain, it can cause a variety of secondary effects including vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia occurs when the brain does not receive enough blood and thus causes damage to cognitive functions such as memory and problem-solving.
What Does Science Say About Stress And Dementia
A review of the scientific literature on stress and dementia risk concluded that stress could play a role in dementia development but is unlikely to be the only factor that causes the condition. There is still much to be understood about what mechanisms could underlie any links between stress and dementia risk.
A study funded by Alzheimers Society is examining whether long-term stress may play a role in whether someone progresses from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimers disease. Lead researcher Clive Holmes says:
‘Understanding the role of the immune system in the risk of Alzheimers disease is of great importance to researchers. As prolonged stress can cause changes in the immune system, we wanted to find out if this was linked to progression to dementia from mild cognitive impairment.
‘Our investigations show that stress does appear to have an effect on progression in mild cognitive impairment. Our preliminary findings are showing that this may be mediated through a fault in the regulation of the immune system in people with mild cognitive impairment but we are continuing to investigate this further.’
Some researchers looking into long-term stress and dementia have focused on people who are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder . This is a diagnosed condition that occurs when a person has been through a life-changing or distressing event.
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How Do You Care For Someone With Dementia
Caring for a patient with vascular dementia can be a challenging experience. But there are ways to make things a little easier for both you and your loved one:
- Establish a routine.;A calm environment can reduce worry and agitation, which in turn helps the person cope with their dementia. Establishing a daily routine that includes comfortable activities can help create this calm environment and take some pressure off you as well.
- Help them with cognitive rehabilitation. If your loved one struggles with memory or attention, they may not do cognitive rehab on their own. Instead, you may need to help them with their exercises. If this becomes too frustrating, remember to take care of yourself too.
- Find a support group.;Caring for someone with post-stroke dementia can be a full-time job, and this can lead to social isolation. Support groups put you in touch with people going through the same experiences and give you a network you can rely on for help and advice.
- Take time for yourself.;To avoid caregiver burnout, its important to take time to care for your own needs. If possible, have another family member take over your caregiving duties for the day and allow yourself time to recharge.
Following these tips can help lighten the burden a little and make the caregiving process smoother.
What Are The Main Cause Of Dementia
The most common causes of dementia include:Degenerative neurological diseases. Vascular disorders. Traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents, falls, concussions, etc.Infections of the central nervous system. Long-time alcohol or drug use.Certain types of hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.Aug 5, 2020
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Light Therapy For Alzheimers
Before we explore light therapy and Alzheimers disease and how red light may benefit Alzheimer’s patient, well review bright light therapy, which has been used as an Alzheimers treatment. What bright light therapy shares in common with red light is that it is natural, safe, and non-invasive.
Bright light therapy has been used for many years to treat seasonal affective disorder, as well as non-seasonal depression, and to regulate the circadian rhythm . A patient being treated with bright light therapy sits in front of a light therapy box with eyes open, so that light can enter through the retinas.
Alzheimers disease is often associated with prolonged/excessive daytime napping and nighttime restlessness. According to a 2013 review by researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bright LED therapy lights for Alzheimers patients are safe and beneficial. It can be used to reset their circadian rhythm, thereby promoting restful sleep at night and restoring normal sleep. This can help minimize wandering, agitation, disruptive behavior, and sleep disturbances.;
However, there are some challenges associated with bright light therapy as a recommended LED light therapy for Alzheimers patients. Adhering to the treatment requirements could prove difficult for Alzheimers patients because …
Red light therapy, which well cover in the next section, may be more effective for people with Alzheimers disease because …
Strategies To Help You Manage These Feelings
- Talk to someone about how you feel. This is one way to get these feelings out into the open. Talk to a close friend, a family member or someone with whom you feel comfortable.
- Meet with other people who live with dementia. Together, you can share your feelings and experiences and offer each other social and emotional support.
- Contact your local Alzheimer Society to see if there is a support group in your area. If not, you may be interested in helping the Society start one. Another option may be to have the Society get you in touch with someone who can provide one-on-one support.
- Recognize that each of us has our own way of dealing with our feelings. The important thing is to find a way or ways of coping with these emotions that makes you feel better.
- Listen to what other people living with dementia suggest. When we asked the same people who shared their reactions and feeling how they coped with their emotions, here’s what they said:
- “Acknowledge it.”
- “Take one day at a time.”
- “Join a support group. The more you speak, you get a load off your chest.”
- “Be with people you can laugh with.”
- “Go for a walk with someone.”
- “Don’t be shy. Ask for help.”
- “Tell people if they hurt your feelings.”
- “Animals are good for people. Animals are calming.”
- “Don’t stay enclosed, isolated. Get out.”
- “Never give up hope. Living is worth it.
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Stories From Real Life
Even if the scientists remain divided, stories abound of people with dementia showing real improvement in their mental abilities when stress levels are reduced through art, music, therapeutic touch, conversation or countryside walks.
Brian, living with dementia, speaking after an outdoor guided walk, said It helps dampen down the symptoms of my dementia.I forget I have dementia.
Music For Life and Singing for the Brain use music to alleviate Alzheimers. The late neurologist Oliver Sacks describes, in stunning real life stories, how music appears to call back the self, awakening moods, memories and thoughts that had seemingly been lost.
The Potential Link Between Stress And Alzheimers
In 2012, the University of Southampton in the;United Kingdom began a three-year study investigating the effects of chronic stress on both people with mild cognitive impairment and a control group of people over 50 without any memory issues.
The study was just the beginning of research across the world that is investigating the effects of stress on both the;development and progression of Alzheimers once it has been diagnosed.
Much of the new research regarding stress and Alzheimers has revolved around brain aging, the role of cortisol and structural changes that are caused by chronic stress.
Stress can cause physical changes to the brain such as:
- Disrupting specific synapses which regulate cognitive function and social skills
- Increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for anxiety
- Killing brain cells
- Reducing brain size
Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone as it is one of the main hormones involved in the bodys fight or flight syndrome. When cortisol is released due to stress, it causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, and a decrease in non-critical bodily functions such as digestion and immune response. Research also shows that chronically high cortisol levels have been associated with anxiety, blood pressure and memory loss.
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Anxiety A Risk Factor For Dementia
Of the body of research examined, only four studies focused on the desired topic; these studies accounted for potential confounders such as vascular and psychiatric conditions, and demographic factors.
The researchers were unable to carry out a pooled analysis of these four studies because they were designed so differently, but the authors mention that the methods used in the studies were reliable and their conclusions solid.
Additionally, the combined sample size of the four studies was large, including almost 30,000 people.
All four studies found a positive correlation between moderate to severe anxiety and later development of dementia: Clinically significant anxiety in midlife was associated with an increased risk of dementia over an interval of at least 10 years, write the researchers.
These findings suggest that anxiety may be an independent risk factor for late-onset dementia, excluding the anxiety that might represent the initial symptoms of dementia, write Gimson and colleagues.
The link between anxiety and dementia, the authors note, may be explained by the excessive stress response triggered by the mental health condition.
This abnormally high stress response might accelerate the aging process of brain cells, which, in turn, may speed up age-related cognitive decline.
Alzheimers Disease Is A Frightening Type Of Dementia That Causes Issues With Memory Thinking Processes And Behavior
The symptoms generally start slow and gradually worsen over time and increasingly interfere with the patients day-to-day tasks and relationships.
Studies into the causes and cures for Alzheimers has been ongoing for decades, and while no single cause has been determined, recent studies have uncovered some things that can increase a persons risk of developing the disease. One of those things is stress.
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Stress And Parkinson’s Disease
While many studies have investigated how stress impacts AD, fewer have looked into the role that stress plays in other neurodegenerative diseases, such as the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson’s Disease . Evidence from the clinic has pointed to an important role for stress on both sides of the Vicious Cycle of Stress in PD etiology. PD elevates anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, all common in Parkinsonian patients, perhaps due to the degeneration of dopaminergic or other neural circuits . Anxiety is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom in PD patients, found in up to 69 percent, followed by depression in 30 percent and generalized anxiety disorder in 11 percent of PD patients . An even greater correlation with neuropsychiatric symptoms is found in the PD-related, Dementia with Lewy Bodies . There is less experimental evidence that stress exacerbates PD. However, it has been reported that in PD patients, stress can dramatically exacerbate common symptoms of PD including rigidity and tremors . In a rat model of PD, chronic variable stress worsens motor performance and increases dopamine neuron loss. Given that circuits degenerate that are critical for the appropriate maintenance of stress responses and HPA axis tone in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases, it is likely that many more connections will be found between stress and the pathology, symptoms, and progression of neurodegenerative diseases other than AD.
Can Ptsd Lead To Dementia
Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with up to a twofold increased risk of dementia, new research shows. Investigators found that individuals with PTSD had a 61% higher risk of dementia, and pooled data from two particular studies showed that PTSD was associated with a doubling of dementia risk.
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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.