Research recently published in the online version of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) compiled data from a long-term study of 800 Swedish women to find that those who experienced a higher number of “stressful” events when middle-aged were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia in later life.
The life “stressors” included widowhood, divorce, job issues and an ill relative.
According to the results, one in four women had experienced a minimum of one stressful event, while 23% had suffered two, one in five had suffered three and 16% had suffered in excess of four.
Throughout the assessment period, almost 20% of women went on to develop dementia.
According to the collated data, the number of stressors reported in 1968 when the women were ‘middle-aged’ was associated with a 21% heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a 15% heightened risk of developing any type of dementia.
While the authors have said that more research is required in order to cement the study findings, the results do suggest that stress may trigger a series of physiological reactions in the central nervous, endocrine and immune systems. The authors said:
“Our study shows that common psychosocial stressors may have severe and long-standing physiological and psychological consequences.”
Commenting on the study, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Simon Ridley, said that research such as this is key for identifying trends and highlighting areas that warrant further investigation.
We all experience stressful events during our lives and unfortunately during these times it is easy to forget the basics of looking after ourselves. If you are going through a stressful stage in your life and the effects are beginning to ripple into other areas (job and relationships etc.), a hypnotherapist could help you to take back control. Hypnotherapy has long since been used as a way to promote relaxation, tapping in to the unconscious mind to replace negative reactions and behaviour patterns with more positive ones. To find out more, visit our stress fact-sheet.
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