Middle-aged adults with moderate-to-severe anxiety may be at increased risk for late-onset dementia – the most prevalent form of dementia, which typically develops after 65, suggests a study conducted at the University of Southampton School of Medicine in the United Kingdom. Results of this study support other research showing a connection between mental health problems like anxiety and depression and risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
The researchers examined 3,500 scientific papers and identified four that focused on the potential link between depression in middle age, with or without anxiety, and late-onset dementia. Accounting for additional dementia risk factors, such as vascular disease, psychiatric disorders, and others, the four studies, showed a correlation between anxiety and dementia risk among the 30,000 study participants.
According to the study authors, this association may be related to stress responses that are triggered by anxiety. What they’re not sure about is whether relieving anxiety in middle age could help stave off dementia later.