We’ve all had the experience of getting stuck in a negative frame of mind. But if it’s a regular thing for you, well, here’s something that might motivate you to break the habit: A new study shows that women who are constantly anxious and distressed are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
A nearly 40-year study recently published by the American Academy of Neurology finds that women who scored highest on the neuroticism scale--which measures the tendency to feel easily stressed, anxious, jealous, guilty, and depressed--were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who scored lowest. Apparently, these psychological stressors release stress hormones in the body and can affect structures in the brain that are connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
Out of the 800 women that researchers followed for almost four decades, 104 of them developed Alzheimer’s. What the research revealed was that while being either withdrawn or outgoing did not appear to raise Alzheimer’s risk alone, women who were both easily distressed and withdrawn had the highest risk of developing the disease.
Ready for the good news? (Yes, there is good news.) You can do something about these personality-based risk factors, like getting counseling. And there are plenty of other proven ways to reduce your risk.
“There is very strong evidence that if you exercise regularly in middle age, it lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s,” said study author Ingmar Skoog. “And you can stimulate your brain by reading and doing crosswords.” Find more ways to reduce your risk with 8 Ways To Prevent Alzheimer's.