Negative thinking associated with dementia in later life, research reveals

New research has shown that recurrent negative thinking in later life is associated with cognitive decline and higher deposits of two harmful proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

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

Negative thoughts like Romanian thinking about the past and worries about the future were measured in over 350 people over the age of 55 over a two-year period. Approximately one third of the participants also underwent PET (positron emission tomography) a brain scan to measure deposits of tau and beta amyloid, two proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.

The scan showed that people who thought negatively for a longer time had more tau and beta amyloid accumulation, poorer memory and a greater cognitive decline over a four-year period compared to people who were not pessimistic.

The study also tested the level of anxiety and depression and found a greater cognitive decline in depressed and anxious people, which is an echo in previous research.

But tau and amyloid deposits have not increased in already depressed and anxious people, leading researchers to suspect repeated negative thinking may be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Taken along with other studies, which link depression and anxiety to the risk of dementia, we expect that chronic patterns of negative thinking over a long period of time could increase the risk of dementia,” Marchant said.

“This is the first study to show the biological link between recurrent negative thinking and Alzheimer’s pathology and provides physicians with a more accurate way to assess risk and offer more personalized interventions,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, founder of Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York Medical Center. Presbyterian and Weill Cornell, who was not involved in the study.

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“Many people at risk are unaware of the specific negative impact of worry and rumination directly on the brain,” said Isaacson, who is also a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which funds research to better understand and alleviate age-related cognitive decline.

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

More studies are needed

“It’s important to stress that this doesn’t mean that short-term negative thinking will cause Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fiona Carragher, chief policy and research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society in London. “We need further investigation to better understand this.”

“Most people in the study have already been identified as having a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so we should see if these results resonate within the general population,” she said, “and if repeated negative thinking increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease itself.”

Researchers suggest that mental training methods such as meditation could help promote positive thinking while reducing negative thoughts, so they plan to test future studies. their hypothesis.

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

“Taking care of your mental health is very important and it should be a top public health priority because it is not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it can also affect your possible risk of dementia,” Chételat said.

Looking from the bright side

Previous research supports their hypothesis. People who look at life from a positive perspective are much better at avoiding death than any kind of cardiovascular risk than pessimistic people, a 2019 study showed. In fact, the more positive a person is, the greater the protection against heart attack, stroke and any cause of death.
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It’s not just your heart that is protected by positive prospects. Previous research has found a direct link between optimism and other positive health traits, such as healthier diet and exercise behaviors, And stronger immune system and better lung function, among others.
This is likely because optimists have better health habits, said cardiologist Dr. Alan Rozanski, a professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai, who studies the effects of optimism on health. They are more likely to exercise, to have a better diet and smokes less frequently.

“Optimists are also prone to better coping and problem-solving skills,” Rozanski told CNN in a previous interview. “They’re better at what we call proactive coping or anticipating problems, and then they proactively take steps to solve them.”

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Train to be optimistic

You can tell where you stand on a glass of a half-full or empty concept by answering a series of statementsAnd called the “test of orientation in life.”

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The test includes statements like, “I am a believer in the idea that‘ every cloud has a silver coating ’” and “If something can go wrong for me, it will happen”. You rate statements on a scale from very agree to very disagree, and the results can be added together to determine the level of optimism or pessimism.

Previous research has shown that it is possible to train the brain to be more optimistic, like muscle training. Using direct measures of brain function and structure, one study found that meditation took only 30 minutes a day for two weeks to produce measurable changes in the brain.
One of the most effective ways to increase optimism, states a meta-analysis of existing studies, is called the “Best Possible Self” method, where you imagine or write about yourself in a future where you have achieved all your life goals and all problems have been solved.

Another technique is to practice gratitude. Just taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you grateful can improve your outlook on life. And while you’re at that point, list the positive experiences you had that day, which can also raise your optimism.

“And finally, we know that cognitive behavioral therapies are very effective treatments for depression; pessimism is on the way to depression,” Rozanski said.

“You can apply the same principles as we do to depression, such as rewriting. You learn that there is an alternative way of thinking or rewriting negative thoughts, and in that way you can make progress with the pessimist.”

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