Could Anxiety Lead to Dementia?

A recent study suggests that living with moderate to severe anxiety in midlife may lead to dementia in later years.

The new research was carried out by a team of scientists led by Amy Gimson, a researcher at the University of Southampton's Faculty of Medicine in the United Kingdom.

Gimson and her colleagues observed that more and more studies were highlighting a link between mental health problems and late-onset dementia — the most prevalent form of dementia, which affects people around the age of 65.

For instance, the authors of the new study write that depression has been shown to boost the risk of Alzheimer's by almost twofold.

Anxiety often occurs together with depression, and symptoms of anxiety have often been reported by people years before receiving a diagnosis of dementia.

But until now, it has remained unclear whether these associations mean that anxiety and depression are the first symptoms that appear before the full-blown form of dementia develops, or whether anxiety and depression are independent risk factors.

So, to investigate this, Gimson and her team sifted through 3,500 studies in search of papers that examined the link between midlife depression, with or without anxiety, and late-onset dementia.

The findings of their meta-analysis were published in the journal BMJ Open.

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