Are Anxiety and Depression Indicators for Future Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer’s is a life-altering condition that greatly affects the patient’s reasoning, memory, and behavior. Those who are struggling with this disease will eventually require care from friends, families, or other third parties in order to survive, as they will lose the capacity to perform even the simplest of tasks, such as cleaning after themselves, cooking, doing groceries, or even walking around from point to point.
On the other hand, those who provide care will usually have to plan their schedules around the patient, considering that looking after them is often a full-time activity. Additionally, while Alzheimer’s has several risk factors associated with its onset, its origins within the patient still remain a mystery. However, recent studies have discovered that those who developed dementia (the disease category to which Alzheimer’s belongs) were at least twice more likely to have been diagnosed with depressive or anxiety disorders, making these two mental conditions an important risk factor to consider when screening for Alzheimer’s.
By itself, Alzheimer’s is already quite serious, considering that it is a neurodegenerative disorder that progressively alters and destroys the subject’s brain structure, initially causing symptoms such as short-term memory loss, and progressing to adversely affect his or her reasoning, judgment, and motor skills. As the damage to the brain progresses, more and more bodily functions become compromised and, sooner than later, life becomes unsustainable in the affected individual, leading to their deaths around 3 to 9 years after the disease’s formal diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s is somewhat random in the way it develops; the mechanisms behind its onset are, as of now, unknown. However, researchers have discovered a number of risk factors that can help to predict and diagnose, with great precision, whether a person is susceptible (or may be already suffering from) the disease.
Such risk factors may include, but are not limited to a history of head injuries (such as those sustained by professional sports players), cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, the patient’s age (the disease is more common in those over 65 years of age), and a history of Alzheimer’s in the family. Regardless, the only true way of establishing an unerring Alzheimer’s diagnosis is by performing an autopsy on the patient after their death and examining their brain for physical symptoms of dementia-related degradation.
The relationship between depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer's disease
For how complicated it is to identify Alzheimer’s, researchers have learned to identify risk factors that could make a successful diagnosis feasible. As time passes, the list of risk factors associated with the disease, and our ability to identify it, increase. The most recent additions to the list are depression and anxiety, as these two psychological conditions have been regarded as possible factors in the onset of Alzheimer’s dusease.
Read on to learn more about this relationship and how depression and anxiety may actually be precursors of the disease.