It turns out our mindset may actually influence our risk for diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, possibly delaying their onset, or slowing down their progression.
“We’ve known for a long time that chronic stress; chronic severe stress is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia in older adults,” Dr. Cliff Singer said.
It’s long been known that genetics play a big role in brain diseases, but newer studies, like one out of the University of Florida, are pointing to how we live our lives, not just what we inherit. In particular, our level of stress.
Scientists are studying the brains of people exposed to chronic high stress, and they notice changes.
Dr. Singer says that stress hormone, or cortisol, can do some damage.
“So over time, there is a reduction in the number of brain cells and a loss of brain volume,” Singer said.
Dr. Singer says research is showing that stress can play a very specific role in accelerating Alzheimer’s disease in the brain. Doug and his wife Betsy say they believe Doug’s symptoms got worse, after one of the most stressful years of their life.
Doctors say it’s important for people to understand that if it’s “bad for the heart,” it’s more than likely “bad for the brain.”