The Ques­tion Will midlife anx­i­ety lead to dementia?

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW - KEVIN COURT­NEY

Are you anx­ious? Stressed out? Wor­ried about get­ting old? Then you could be on the fast track to early-on­set dementia, ac­cord­ing to a a UK med­i­cal study.

That’s right – the more you worry, the more likely it is that you will de­velop dementia in later life. So now you’ve re­ally got some­thing to worry about.

Mind you, you have to be a mid­dle-aged wor­rier to end up in the dementia dan­ger zone. If you’re a teenager or in your 20s, you can worry away hap­pily without a care in the world.

But if you’re in your 50s, and suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion, in 10 years you could be a can­di­date for vas­cu­lar dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Southamp­ton and Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don trawled through more than 3,500 stud­ies look­ing at links be­tween midlife anx­i­ety and the de­vel­op­ment of dementia, and found four stud­ies in­volv­ing nearly 30,000 peo­ple which sug­gested a def­i­nite cor­re­la­tion.

The re­sults of the study were pub­lished by the BMJ

Open on­line med­i­cal jour­nal this week. The re­searchers write: “Clin­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant anx­i­ety in midlife was as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of dementia over an in­ter­val of at least 10 years.”

To many in the med­i­cal world, this link be­tween midlife anx­i­ety and later-life dementia won’t come as a great sur­prise.

Re­cent re­search has re­vealed a con­nec­tion be­tween anx­i­ety and mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment. If this lat­est study is cor­rect, we may be look­ing at a ma­jor cog­ni­tive catas­tro­phe within a decade.

So, will elim­i­nat­ing all anx­i­ety now pre­vent the on­set of dementia down the road? Ac­tu­ally, the re­searchers don’t know the an­swer to that one.

They can’t tell if yoga re­treats and chakra-re­align­ing week­ends will do any­thing to stop the mass ex­o­dus of brain cells.

But I think they can be cer­tain about one thing: wor­ry­ing about it won’t do you any good.

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