Under the Hood

Optimism Could Help Prevent Dementia

When life gets you down, stay positive. It might just help prevent the development of dementia as you reach your elderly years.

New Study Shows That Optimism May Help Prevent Dementia

With everything wrong that's going on in the world right now, it’s almost impossible to stay optimistic about not just our future, but with the world in general. Everything is just a mess that it’s hard not to feel down in the dumps. Feeling that way is perfectly understandable.

However, a new research reveals that it wouldn’t hurt to be less negative because persistently engaging in positive thinking might be able to decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A neurodegenerative disease that starts developing in our golden years (ironically), Alzheimer’s disease attacks us by causing our brain cells to degenerate and die, leading to a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that then stops a person from being able to properly function independently. And now, a new study reveals that constant negative thinking can help trigger it.

Made by researchers from UCL, McGill University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, the new study looked at 292 people that are over the age of 55 years old.

To do the study, the researchers asked the study participants to focus on repetitive negative thinking (RNT) patterns for two years. They were also asked to complete measures of depression and anxiety symptoms. The 113 out of them were asked to undergo PET scans, on top of their memory, attention, language and other cognitive functions getting assessed.

Per the study, people with higher RNT patterns showed more cognitive decline through a four-year period.

"Depression and anxiety in mid-life and old age are already known to be risk factors for dementia. Here, we found that certain thinking patterns implicated in depression and anxiety could be an underlying reason why people with those disorders are more likely to develop dementia. Taken alongside other studies, which link depression and anxiety with dementia risk, we expect that chronic negative thinking patterns over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia," Natalie Marchant, study lead author, said.

Alzheimer's Disease Parkinson's is closely linked to dopamine in people's brains. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

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