New research has shown that key signs of dementia are connected to repetitive negative thinking. Published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the research may help provide new therapies for Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dementia is a term that represents a variety of diseases characterized by cognitive decline. The symptoms of different types of dementia vary, depending on the parts of the brain that are affected.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which is affecting millions of people in the US. Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease currently.
Repetitive Negative Thoughts
Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is the process of rumination, during which you constantly think about your past and worry about the future.
Previous research has suggested that some psychological factors, e.g. depression and anxiety, may be related to Alzheimer’s disease. The authors of the study tried to figure out the relationship between RNT and the key signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the study, the researchers divided 360 participants into two groups. The first group contained participants from the Pre‐symptomatic Evaluation of Experimental or Novel Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (PREVENT-AD) research, while people in the second group were from the Multi‐Modal Neuroimaging in Alzheimer’s Disease (IMAP+) study.
The researchers measured the participants’ RNT, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline levels for up to 4 years. They also measured the levels of tau and amyloid proteins, something you can find in nerve cells, in the brains of 113 participants.
RNT and Alzheimer’s
It was found that the greater someone’s RNT level is, the more rapid their cognitive abilities decrease. Meanwhile, these people tend to have significant deposits of tau and amyloid proteins.
According to the lead author of the study Dr. Natalie Marchant of University College London, United Kingdom, “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. We hope that our findings could be used to develop strategies to lower people’s risk of dementia by helping them to reduce their negative thinking patterns.”
The study, despite some limitations like the unclear relationship between RNT and key signs of Alzheimer’s, provides a direction for future studies in the cause of dementia.
As for the inspiration the study offers to ordinary people like us? We’ve always been told to keep optimistic, now there’s a new reason why we should stick to positive thoughts.