While the link between depression and dementia has been well-documented, the relationship between anxiety and dementia has not gained much focus. However, the findings of a Swedish study conducted on twins confirms a definite association between anxiety and dementia. According to the Swedish Adoption Twin Study, people who have a high level of anxiety anytime in their life have a 48 percent increased risk of being demented when they age.
Although several studies have already explored the link between dementia and other mental disorders, such as depression and neuroticism, this study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia in April 2016 has succeeded in establishing the association between anxiety and dementia, irrespective of depression.
Compared to depression that is largely episodic in nature, anxiety is like a chronic problem that persists until the lifetime. Consequently, it is quite difficult to diagnose anxiety disorders, which are commonly ignored as a part of one’s personality. This is the reason why there are lesser number of studies on the co-occurrence of both anxiety and dementia.
Overall, dementia is a fairly common disease among the elderly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5.5 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia. With 40 million Americans afflicted by anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), it is also a very common mental illness like dementia, especially among the aging population. Considering the prevalence and detrimental effects of both anxiety and dementia, it is essential to find a link between the two problems.
Anxiety-dementia relationship much stronger among fraternal twins than identical twins
The study included the examination of 28 years of data from the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging by the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden. The 1,082 participants, including both fraternal and identical twins, of the study went through in-person tests every three years and answered a set of questions. Moreover, these people were screened for dementia during the entire study.
The study found that the twins studied had different levels of anxiety, but those who had developed dementia had a higher level of anxiety compared to others. It was also observed that people with the higher levels of anxiety are also likely to witness increased levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Moreover, the chronic high levels of cortisol are believed to damage some key portions of the brain, such as the hippocampus region (storehouse of memory) and the frontal cortex (responsible for high-level thinking).
According to the researchers, there is an increased risk of developing the problem of dementia and anxiety among fraternal twins, compared to the identical twins. This finding indicates that genetics plays a crucial role in the onset of the diseases and some common genes may be responsible for both anxiety and dementia.
As such, the relationship between depression and dementia is well established. It is essential to establish a link between depression and dementia because depression co-occurs with anxiety in the majority of cases. When anxiety is left untreated, it often leads to depression. Therefore, a common association between these two disorders (depression and dementia) could be also due to the link between anxiety and dementia.
Seek holistic treatment to ensure recovery
With the study highlighting the relevance of anxiety in the development of dementia, it is important to get anxiety disorders treated as soon as possible. This will help in not only getting rid of unnecessary anxieties, but can also assist in avoiding the development of dementia in later years.
If you or your loved one is suffering from anxiety, get in touch with the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online to find the best anxiety treatment centers in California to access state-of-the-art programs and holistic services.