Study Finds Link Between Stress and Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Stress has often been associated with a myriad of physical, emotional and psychological ailments from mild headaches to clinical depression. Researchers have also long studied a link between chronic stress and an increased risk of certain diseases. A new study has recently published findings that might help increase understanding about the role stress can play in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It results in the progressive worsening of memory and other cognitive functions. Symptoms can be mild initially, but worsen over time particularly impacting areas such as motor function, speech and behavior. Currently, there is no known cure and treatments mainly focus on alleviating symptoms.

The Study Findings

The new study, published in the online medical journal, Neurology, saw researchers analyze a number of sources to compare variations in stress levels of over 17,000 adults aged 45 and over. The study tracked factors such as perceived stress levels, type of job, whether the participants were unemployed, short-term stress levels (from 10-20 years in the past) and income.

The main finding of the study showed that increased levels of prolonged stress—spanning between 10 and 20 years—were strongly linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease compared to those with low-stress levels during the same period.

This link between chronic stress and the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease has not been established before and lead researcher, Dr Philip Wilson, of Purdue University in the U.S. stated that this could be a vital clue to the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. He also noted that further research needed to be done to gain a greater understanding of the causal impact it may have.

Ways to Manage Stress

Stress can affect health in a number of ways, and one way to reduce the risks associated with it is to practice good stress management techniques. The following are just some of the ways to reduce stress levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Exercise: Exercise, such as yoga or jogging, is a great way to reduce stress levels and have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
    Plenty of Rest: Make sure you are getting enough restful sleep, which helps invigorate the body and mind.
  2. Healthy Eating: Eating a healthy diet and abstaining from extended periods of alcohol and drug use can also help to reduce stress.
  3. Meditation: Regular meditation also helps to focus the mind, relax the body and reduce stress.
  4. Talking it Out: Talking to friends, family or even a professional therapist can help to get some worries off your chest and reduce stress levels.

The recent study conducted by the Purdue University has found a positive correlation between stress levels and the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the first study of its kind and helps to increase understanding of the potential impact that stress can have on the development of degenerative neurological disorders. There are a number of measures which can be taken to reduce stress, such as regular exercise and relaxation methods and a healthy diet. Further research is required in this area, which may help to shed further light on this issue.