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Chronic Stress Could Lead to Dementia: Scientists Warn

Always living in a state of constant stress ultimately lead to depression and dementia, scientists have warned. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain function. The recent research confirms that chronic stress and anxiety can damage areas of the brain involved in thinking and memory, emotional responses, leading to depression and even Alzheimer’s disease. People need to overcome the chronic stress and anxiety in their lives or they might be at risk of increasing dementia.

Doctor and patient
Dementia is a category of brain diseases that cause long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to remember and that is great enough to affect a person’s daily functioning.

Lead author of the review, Dr. Linda Mah, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in Department of Geriatric Psychiatry at University of Toronto stated that Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.

Previous research had explained a link between dementia and stress. But the recent study sheds new light on how it damages the brain. Canadian neuroscientists have found chronic stress is related to the degeneration and cortisol impede the activity of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub. It increases the size and activity of the amygdala, the brain’s main center for motivation and emotional responses. It also effects the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls behaviour.

Talking about her study Dr Mah said,”We need to do more work to determine if interventions, such as exercise, mindfulness training and cognitive behavioural therapy can not only reduce stress but decrease the risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders”. Positively, Dr Mah feels that this type of stress-induced damage to the brain is not completely irreversible. Treatment with  physical activity and antidepressant drugs have been found to boost regeneration.

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