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Impact of chronic stress on dementia doubted as PTSD sufferers face doubling risk

The connection between chronic stress and the onset of dementia may not be as clear-cut as previously thought, with other mental health conditions potentially doubling your risk of developing the disease.

Chronic stress has long been associated with memory problems and dementia, but a recent study suggests that the role of stress and its hormone, cortisol, might be overstated.

Cortisol has been scientifically linked to memory issues, while chronic stress has been shown to have severe long-term effects on emotional, mental and physical health.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, some animal studies have shown that stress directly affects the mechanisms underlying dementia. However, the numerous variables it introduces in humans make it a complex issue for researchers.

Stress is closely related to conditions such as depression and anxiety and has a proven effect on the immune system.

All these factors are believed to potentially increase the risk of dementia, making it difficult to establish a direct link between stress and the disease without considering common comorbidities.

While this complexity continues to challenge researchers, a study funded by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed a startling link between PTSD and dementia.

A review of the literature on the two mental health conditions showed that individuals with PTSD are up to twice as likely to develop dementia.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a recognised mental health condition that can occur following a traumatic or life-altering event.

The relationship between PTSD and dementia is not yet fully understood, and the charity emphasises that having PTSD does not necessarily mean an individual will develop dementia.

A study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society investigated the link between long-term stress and dementia. Participants were assessed at the beginning of the trial for their cognitive abilities and monitored for any signs of dementia development.

The study found that participants with memory and thinking issues had higher stress levels than those without these problems. However, the level of stress did not correlate with the decline in their cognitive abilities or the onset of dementia.

Therefore, while chronic stress may contribute to the development or progression of dementia, it is not a direct cause of the disease.


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