by Vishnuprasad on  December 22, 2015 at 12:41 PM Health In Focus
 Dementia Risk High Among Anxious People
Anxiety may increase your risk of developing dementia, indicates a new study. People who are anxious are one and a half times more likely to develop the neurological disorders, reveals the study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Scientists at the University of California find that individuals who suffer from high anxiety at some point in their lives are 48% more likely to suffer from cognitive decline.

The 28-year-long study involved as many as 1,082 Swedish identical and non-identical twins. The participants completed neurological tests every three years and answered questionnaires.

The scientists claim that this is the first study to establish a connection between anxiety and dementia, although other studies have linked dementia with psychological issues such as depression and neuroticism, a fundamental personality trait characterized by anxiety, fear, and loneliness.

Anxiety is an emotion developed from an unpleasant state of inner confusion. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of apprehension over anticipated events. Anxious people may live in the fear of death, but anxiety and fear are different. Fear is a response to a true or perceived immediate threat, and anxiety is the expectation of a future threat.

Psychologist Dr. Andrew Petkus, University of California, said, "Anxiety, especially in older adults, has been relatively understudied compared to depression. Depression seems more evident in adulthood, but it's usually episodic. Anxiety, though, tends to be a life-long chronic problem, and that's why people tend to write off anxiety as part of someone's personality."

The researchers noted that the twin who developed dementia had a history of higher levels of anxiety compared to their better-off peers.

'The subjects with anxiety who later developed dementia are people that experience more than usual symptoms of anxiety," said study co-author Margaret Gatz, a professor of psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

According to the researchers, anxious people have higher levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. Chronically high levels of cortisol hurt parts of the brain such as the frontal cortex, which is responsible for high-level thinking and the hippocampus, which stores memory.

The study also showed that the anxiety-dementia link was stronger among fraternal twins. This result indicates that there may be genetic factors commonly shared by anxiety and dementia that lead to these conditions.

The research team also hopes to determine whether people who have undergone treatment for anxiety earlier in their lives show a lower risk of dementia compared to others whose anxiety was not treated.

Top 10 Tips to Manage Anxiety

The research showed that anxiety can take a toll on your mental health. Here are some effective tips to deal with anxiety.

1. Take a Break to Get Some Giggle On

Studies suggest that laughter can reduce symptoms of anxiety. So consider checking out funny videos or television programs to calm those jittery nerves.

2. Find Some Time for Meditation

All of us are well aware that meditation is relaxing. A new study indicates that meditation can make you happy. According to scientists, the precuneus (an area of the brain) may be responsible for happiness. The area can be developed with practices like meditation.

3. Express Gratitude

Studies have revealed that people who feel gratitude are happier and, report more life satisfaction. Grateful people are less likely to be depressed and anxious.

4. Learn to Breathe

Short, shallow breaths signify anxiety or stress in the brain and body. So, take a deep breath when you are nervous. Strong breathing sends signals to the brain that it's okay to relax.

5. Play Like Kids

Children have an innate ability to play, without stressing about their overflowing inboxes. So take charge of your playtime. So, often play your favorite game or babysit for an afternoon.

6. Hang Out With Your Friends

People who have lots of friends and associates tend to react less negatively to stress and anxiety than those who lead a life away from friends and family. So make more friends and be with them.

7. Plan Ahead

People who plan things early can easily overcome anxiety. So, fight anxious and nervous thoughts in advance by preparing for the day ahead. Try to make a schedule or a to-do list and develop a habit of implementing the plans within the set time frame.

8. Think and Act Positively

When you are overly anxious with fearful thoughts, take a moment to visualize yourself handling the situation with calm, ease, and clarity. Also, during difficult times, divert your focus to a smooth situation in which you are winning and happy.

9. Limit Your Time of Worrying

Fix a schedule for worrying! Yes, we can let ourselves freak out, but only for a certain amount of time. When you believe something terrible is going to happen, commit to only creating that worry for 20 minutes. This trick will help you to move on after a mental burn.

10. Get Adequate Sleep

Last but not least, you must get adequate sleep. Inconsistent sleep can have some serious consequences on physical health. Also, lack of sleep can contribute to overall anxiety and stress. An adult needs atleast eight hours of sleep per night.


1. Andrew J. Petkuscorrespondenceemail, Chandra A. Reynolds, Julie Loebach Wetherell, William S. Kremen, Nancy L. Pedersen, Margaret Gatz DOI:

Source: Medindia

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