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Your Emotions Can Put You at-Risk for Alzheimer's

Still don’t believe anger kills, and stress ages you? In a recent study re: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) the psychological assessment included these questions: “I am not a worrier,” “I often feel tense and jittery,” and “I often get angry at the way people treat me.”

The study included 797 individuals with an average age of 75. Research has proven that chronic stress is associated with changes in the hippocampus (an area of the brain), as does chronic depression, and problems with learning and memory. Researchers therefore suspected that people who frequently experience psychological distress might be at increased risk for AD. Their suspicions were confirmed.

Participants were also tested on episodic memory, as impaired episodic memory is a symptom of the disease.

According to the study, reported in PsychiatryMatters.MD, “over an average 4.9 year follow-up, 140 individuals were diagnosed with AD. In addition, those classified as being highly prone to stress (90th percentile) were shown to have twice the risk of developing the disorder as those in the lower stress catefory (10th percentile).”

Further, there was a greater than 10-fold increase in episodic memory decline. Episodic memory is the recall and recognition of events, where as non-episodic memory is factual memory and implicit memory (things you “just know”).

“The results suggest that chronic psychological distress is a risk factor for AD and that this association probably reflects neurobiologic mechanisms other than the pathologic hallmarks of AD,” said lead researcher, R.S. Wilson, in the journal Neurology.

More evidence for the need for emotional intelligence, stress management and resilience. Source Neurology 2003; 61: 1479-1485

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