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Stress In Middle Age Could Lead To Late-Life Dementia

August 20, 2010

Do you suffer from psychological stress? A recent study reveals that stress in middle age could lead to the development of dementia later in life, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, based on a 35 year major study of women in Gothenburg, initially examined 1,415 women in 1968 when aged between 38 and 60, and then re-examined in 1974, 1980, 1992 and 2000.

“Stress was defined as a sense of irritation, tension, nervousness, anxiety, fear or sleeping problems lasting a month or more due to work, health, family or other problems,” Lena Johansson, a researcher from the Neuropsychiatry Epidemiology Unit at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Department of Psychology and Neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, was quoted as saying. “This is the first study to show that stress in middle age can lead to dementia in old age.”

During the 35 years spent researching, 161 of the participants developed dementia, primarily in the form of Alzheimer’s disease. The risk of dementia was around 65 percent higher in women with repeated periods of stress in middle age than those who did not.

“This study could result in a better understanding of the risk factors for dementia, but our results need to be confirmed by other studies, and further research is needed in that area. Most of those who said they were stressed did not develop dementia, so it’s not currently possible to advise people to be less stressed or warn about the dangers of high stress levels due to an increased risk of developing dementia,” Johansson concluded.

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