Moderate to severe mid-life anxiety may be linked to later life dementia

April 30, 2018

Moderate to severe mid-life anxiety may be linked to dementia in later life, suggests an analysis of the available published evidence in the online journal BMJ Open.

But as yet, it's not clear whether active treatment could curb this risk, and whether non-drug therapies, such as mindfulness and meditation, which are known to reduce anxiety might help, say the researchers.

A mounting body of evidence suggests that mental illness may be associated with dementia in older age, but it's not clear if it represents initial (prodromal) symptoms before the advent of fully fledged disease or if it acts as an independent risk factor.

To probe this further, the researchers trawled research databases for studies looking at the association between mid-life anxiety, in isolation or combined with depression, and the development of dementia.

Only four out of more than 3500 studies met these criteria, but they involved a total of nearly 30,000 people.

All of the studies accounted for a range of potentially influential demographic, physical, and psychological factors, and all found an association between moderate to severe anxiety and future dementia, with a gap of at least 10 years in between diagnoses.

Because the study design differed so much, pooled analysis of the data couldn't be undertaken, but the studies were all of high quality, strengthening the findings, say the researchers.

The findings back up recent evidence pointing to a link between anxiety and risk of mild cognitive impairment, and lend weight to the known association between depression and dementia, they say.

An abnormal stress response, which is typical of moderate to severe anxiety, may speed up brain cell ageing and degenerative changes in the central nervous system, so increasing vulnerability to dementia, they suggest.

"Whether reducing anxiety in middle age would result in reduced risk of dementia remains an open question," they write. But approaches other than anti-anxiety drugs may be worth testing, they say.

"Non-pharmacological therapies, including talking therapies and mindfulness-based interventions and meditation practices, that are known to reduce anxiety in midlife, could have a risk reducing effect, although this is yet to be thoroughly researched," they caution.

But they suggest that given the prevalence of anxiety, it may be worth doctors considering anxiety a risk factor for dementia as well as depression.
-end-


BMJ

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.