Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stress and Negativity Increases Chance of Dementia

According to a new study, people who are easily stressed, negative, or introverted have a 50% increased risk of developing dementia when compared to others who are socially active calm, and extroverted.

The research, published January 19 in the American Academy of Neurology, included 506 people without dementia at the beginning of the study. The participants were given questionnaires regarding lifestyle, involving how socially active they were, measuring their degree of extraversion, and happiness with their social lives.

The questionnaire targeted people who were easily distressed, nervous, negative or emotionally unstable, comparing those who were reserved, introverted, and introspective to those who were socially active and optimistic. Over a period of six years, 144 developed dementia.

According to study author Hui-Xin Wang, PhD, with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, “In the past, studies have shown that chronic distress can affect parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, possibly leading to dementia, but our findings suggest that having a calm and outgoing personality in combination with a socially active lifestyle may decrease the risk of developing dementia even further.. But these are early results, so how exactly mental attitude influences risk for dementia is not clear.”

According to estimates, by the year 2030, one in seven Americans will have some form of dementia. The take home message from the study again shows the negative impact of stress on overall health and well-being. The authors remind us, “The good news is, lifestyle factors can be modified as opposed to genetic factors, which cannot be controlled”.

Source: Socially Active and Not Easily Stressed? You May Not Develop Dementia

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