Memory Care: Does Anxiety Increase the Risk of Alzheimer’s?
Although anxiety is a natural human response, it can easily become a disruptive health problem. Anxiety disorders are incredibly common, affecting nearly 20% of the U.S. adult population each year.
Chronic anxiety is more than a psychological problem, however; it impacts the entire body. Over time, it disrupts hormones, impairs digestion, strains the immune system, and can lead to cardiovascular problems. It’s also been suggested that anxiety can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
As a senior living community providing memory care, Garden of Palms keeps up with the latest research regarding Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory. In this article we’ll examine whether there is a relationship between chronic anxiety and Alzheimer’s.
What are the facts about anxiety and Alzheimer’s?
Anxiety disorders cause chronic stress, and we know that chronic stress can damage the body and the brain. The good news is that psychological treatment and exercise can help reverse some of the damage caused by chronic stress. Unfortunately, most people living with anxiety do not seek treatment.
A recent study set out to examine the relationship between mood disorders and Alzheimer’s. The researchers found that an increase in anxiety among participants was associated with higher amyloid beta, which is a protein in the brain involved in the development of Alzheimer’s.
Even though this points to a possible relationship between anxiety and Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t mean anxiety increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Instead, it could indicate that anxiety is an early symptom of the disease. The distinction might seem small, but it’s the difference between anxiety being a potential cause or risk factor, versus anxiety being an early warning sign.
Another study that tracked 800 women over 38 years found that neuroticism during midlife is linked with an increased risk of dementia. Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by sensitivity and intense negative emotions, and it’s often associated with depression and anxiety.
However, not all anxious people score highly in neuroticism. And as the researchers pointed out, people who are less neurotic are more likely to live healthy lifestyles, which could explain the link between neuroticism and dementia.
Ultimately, more research is needed into the possible relationship between anxiety and Alzheimer’s. But even if anxiety doesn’t lead to Alzheimer’s, it’s definitely bad for your health. If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic anxiety, it’s important to speak with your doctor. There are many effective treatments available, and new anxiety symptoms could be a sign of a larger problem such as a vitamin deficiency.
At Garden of Palms, our memory care program provides a warm and comfortable atmosphere with compassionate, attentive care. We combine support with innovative and proven techniques to fortify the mind and body. For more information about our senior living community, click here.