Perfect partners in crime - Midlife crisis and dementia

  • By Team TDO

The responses we have to common stressful events in our daily lives have a lasting impact on our brain structure. The effects of a stressful event last a very long time, though apparently we seem to have recovered from it.

Researchers say that the stress hormones keep circulating in our body long after the stress has passed.

According to a recent Swedish research study, our response to common life events may trigger long-lasting physiological changes in the brain.

These interestingly shocking findings come from the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, a long term study on 800 women that lasted for almost forty years.

The women who were a part of this study were all born before 1930, and underwent regular neuropsychiatric tests. The study started in 1968 assessed women for any baseline stressors like workplace problems, widowhood, alcoholism and illness in the family.

Women who had serious issues at the start of the study had a 21% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and 15% higher risk of developing dementia later on in life. Interestingly, having to take care of a mentally ill family member like a sibling or mother, was found to be a major cause for development of dementia later on in life.
The findings of this study show that accumulated stress from common life events has severe physiological and psychological consequences. These physiological consequences include adverse effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine and immune systems.

There have been several studies that state that the effects of stressful events like earthquakes, cyclones and floods can have a lasting impact on life and often shape the person’s personality. What makes this study interesting is its finding that daily stressors accumulated over a period of time and often left unresolved, have a lasting impact that shows up in later stages of life!


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