Memory Mondays: Alzheimer’s and Anxiety

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Anxiety affects many facets of a person’s life – including cognitive function. Now, the relationship between Alzheimer’s and anxiety is becoming increasingly apparent, prompting a greater push to alter lifestyle choices and implement better stress management techniques for Alzheimer’s prevention.

Those who suffer from severe anxiety alongside mild cognitive impairment are 135% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, reported. This figure comes from a study conducted by Baycrest Health Sciences’ Rotman Research Institute in Canada. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s was less among those with mild and moderate anxiety, at 33% and 78%, respectively.

Despite this finding, it remains unclear whether intervention will reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, according to researcher Dr. Linda Mah. Further research is necessary to determine this, she said.

A study published by JAMA Psychology similarly depicted the way anxiety combines with other brain changes to accelerate cognitive disorders.

The hope with such findings, then, is to encourage those who have mild cognitive impairment and simultaneously experience anxiety to get help. This may entail adopting lifestyle changes to stave off anxiety.

“I am hoping that people with MCI who are experiencing stress or anxiety but are… putting off engaging in lifestyle interventions like exercise, will be more strongly motivated to do so as a result of our study’s findings,” Dr. Mah said.

Doctors and scientists do agree that certain lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. And although there is no cure, diet tweaks and incorporating exercise have been proven to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms in the past.

Some suggestions include:

– Cardio workouts

– Sufficient sleep

– Social engagement

– Formal education

– Challenging activities like puzzles or Sudoku

Obviously, managing stress and mental health are crucial, too. Given the connection between Alzheimer’s and anxiety, adequately handling your stress or seeking medical treatment may be the difference between a dementia diagnosis and a clear mind.