While mild anxiety is a normal occurrence from time to time, one study is now suggesting that moderate to severe anxiety during middle age might be linked to dementia later on in life.
Data from four previous studies of 30,000 people for ten years or more shows a clear relationship between anxiety in middle age and dementia. The goal of the study was not meant to provide evidence for the linkage between anxiety and dementia. Therefore, there are no exact calculations regarding the degree of dementia risk that comes from moderate to severe anxiety in midlife.
The Necessity of Treating Anxiety
Doctors say that treating an anxiety disorder, independent of its potential associations with dementia, is of utmost importance as a measure for maintaining adequate mental health. Mental health can play a crucial role in overall physical health.
Still, the fact that anxiety and dementia are showing a connection means that people with moderate to severe anxiety should seek out help and treatment as much as or even more so than before.
The Link Between Anxiety And Dementia
Anxiety to this degree during middle age seems to cause a chronic increase in stress hormones. Yet, scientists say it is not clear whether treating the anxiety would, in fact, lessen the chances of dementia later on in life. This remains unproven.
The speculation by scientists is that dementia may result from anxiety in middle age because the elevation of stress hormones could be causing brain damage in areas associated with memory.
The Data Is Still Inconclusive
The fact that anxiety is one of the potential symptoms of dementia establishes some additional difficulty in determining the exact causal relationship between middle age anxiety and dementia— if it is truly a risk factor. Further studies must be done in order to make a definitive conclusion.
Other possibilities include middle age anxiety as an early expression of dementia, or that the association is entirely coincidental. With further study, the link will hopefully become more clear.