Depression and anxiety in mid-life and old age are already known to be risk factors for dementia.
In a recent study from UCL Psychiatry and elsewhere, scientists found persistently engaging in negative thinking patterns may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
They found repetitive negative thinking is linked to subsequent cognitive decline as well as the deposition of harmful brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.
The researchers say repetitive negative thinking should now be further investigated as a potential risk factor for dementia, and psychological tools, such as mindfulness or meditation, should be studied to see if these could reduce dementia risk.
Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, the team expects that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia.
They hope that their findings could be used to develop strategies to lower people’s risk of dementia by helping them to reduce their negative thinking patterns.
In the study, the team examined 360 people over the age of 35.
They found that people who exhibited higher repetitive negative thinking patterns experienced more cognitive decline over a four-year period, and declines in memory (which is among the earlier signs of Alzheimer’s disease), and they were more likely to have amyloid and tau deposits in their brain.
Depression and anxiety were associated with subsequent cognitive decline but not with either amyloid or tau deposition, suggesting that repetitive negative thinking could be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk.
The team suggests that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia as it could contribute to dementia in a unique way.
The researchers suggest that repetitive negative thinking may contribute to Alzheimer’s risk via its impact on indicators of stress such as high blood pressure, as other studies have found that physiological stress can contribute to amyloid and tau deposition.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Vitamin B supplements could help reduce dementia risk.
For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
The study was conducted by Dr. Natalie Marchant et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
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