The study found that negative thinking is associated with dementia in later life

The study found that negative thinking is associated with dementia in later life

A new study found that frequent negative thinking in later life is associated with cognitive decline and increased sediment from two harmful proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We suggest that repeated negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Marchant, psychiatrist and lead researcher in the Department of Mental Health at University College London, in a statement.

Negative thinking behaviors such as rumination about the past and anxiety about the future have been measured in over 350 people over the age of 55 over a period of two years. About a third of the participants also underwent positron emission tomography PET (positron emission tomography) Brain scan to measure the deposits of tau and beta-amyloid, two proteins that cause Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia.

Surveys showed that people who spent more time thinking negatively had more Tau and beta-amyloid build-up, worse memory and a greater cognitive decline over four years compared to people who were not pessimistic.

The study also tested anxiety and depression levels and found a greater cognitive decrease in people with depression and anxiety, echoing previous research.

But Tau and amyloid deposits did not increase in people with depression and anxiety already, which prompted researchers to suspect frequent negative thinking that may be the main reason behind the contribution of depression and anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease.

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“If we take, along with other studies, that link depression and anxiety to the risk of developing dementia, we expect that chronic negative thought patterns over a long period of time can increase the risk of dementia,” said Marchant.

“This is the first study to show a biological relationship between repeated negative thinking and Alzheimer’s pathology, and it gives doctors a more accurate way to assess risks and provide more personalized interventions,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of the Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Clinic. In New York Presbyterian and Will Cornell Medical Center, who were not involved in the study.

“Many people at risk are not aware of the specific negative impact of anxiety and anxiety on the brain directly,” said Isaacson, a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which funds the research to understand the mitigation and mitigation of age-related cognitive decline. .

“This study is important and will change the way I care for my patients at risk.”

More study is needed

“It is important to note that this does not mean that a short period of negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fiona Carragher, director of policy and research at the Alzheimer’s Association in London. “We need more investigation to better understand this.”

She said: “Most people in the study have already been identified as more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, so we need to know whether these results resonate with the general population,” and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.

Researchers suggest that mental training practices such as meditation may help promote positive thinking while reducing negative thoughts, and plan to conduct future test studies Their hypothesis.

“Our thoughts can have a biological effect on our physical health, which may be positive or negative,” said co-author Dr. Gael Chételat of Inserm / Université de Caen-Normandie.

“Caring for your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, because it is not only important to people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it can also affect the risk of developing dementia in the end,” she said. .

Looking at the bright side

Previous research supports their hypothesis. According to a 2019 study, people who view life from a positive perspective have a much better chance of avoiding death from any kind of cardiovascular risk than people who are pessimistic. In fact, the more positive a person is, the greater the protection from heart attacks, stroke and any cause of death.
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Your heart is not protected by a positive outlook. Previous research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health features, such as Eat a healthy diet and exercise, a Stronger immune system And Best lung functionAmong other things.
Perhaps this is because optimists tend to have better health habits, said Dr. Alan Rosansky, a cardiologist, professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, who studies the health effects of optimism. They are more likely to exercise and have better diets And less likely to smoke.

“Optimists also tend to have better coping skills and be better at solving problems,” Rosansky told CNN in a previous interview. “They are better at what we call proactive adaptation, or anticipating problems and then taking proactive steps to fix them.”

Practice to be optimistic

You can find your position on the concept half-empty glass by answering a series of phrasess It is called “life orientation test”.

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The test includes phrases like, “I believe in the idea that” every cloud has a silver lining, “and” if something could go wrong for me, it would happen. “You evaluate phrases on a scale of great agreement to great difference, and results can be added to determine your level of optimism or pessimism.

Previous research has shown that it is possible to “train the brain” to be more optimistic, somewhat like muscle training. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found that it only takes 30 minutes of meditation over a two-week period to produce A measurable change in the brain.
One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, according to A meta-analysis of existing studies, Called the “best possible self” method, where you can imagine or write about yourself in the future in which you have achieved all the goals of your life and all your problems have been solved.

Another method is to practice gratitude. Just spending a few minutes each day writing what makes you grateful can improve your outlook on life. And as you participate, remember the positive experiences you had on that day, which can also increase your optimism.

Finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression, and pessimism is on the way to depression, he said.

“You can apply the same principles that we apply to depression, such as remodeling. You know that there is an alternative way of thinking or paraphrasing negative thoughts, and you can make great progress with pessimists in this way.”

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