Stress Could Advance Development of Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study, published on September 30, 2013, suggests that middle-aged women with lots of stress are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease down the road.
The study conducted by a group of Swedish psychiatrists and phyisiologists examined a sample of 800 women born in 1914, 1918, 1922, and 1930.  It measured how certain psychosocial stressors, including divorce, widowhood, work problems, and illness, affected the results of neuropsychiatric examinations.  During the 37 years of follow-up on the women, 153 developed dementia, 104 of which had Alzhiemer’s disease.  Each individual stressor women reported increased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 20 percent.

The study concluded that common psychosocial stressors may have severe and long-standing physicological and psychological consequences.  Lena Johansson, a doctor in the Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Unit at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology in Sweden, indicated that the study results need to be confirmed by investigating whether more interventions such as stress management and behavioral therapy should be initiated in individuals who have experienced psychosocial stressors.  She explained that it is difficult to say how important stress may be in predicting dementia compared to other influences, such as poverty, diet, smoking and blood pressure.  Nevertheless, stress remained a common thread during the course of the study.
For more information about the study visit here.
The full discussion with Dr. Johansson can be viewed here.
View a summary of the World Report on Alzheimer’s Disease, 2013 here.