Stress can increase Alzheimer’s disease: Know how to reduce the risk

Alzheimer's disease is a prominent problems, and stress can increase Alzheimer's disease risk! Here are some ways to reduce stress and decrease the risk.
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Stress can increase Alzheimer's disease. Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Dr Pankaj B Borade Published: 21 Sep 2023, 13:30 pm IST
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Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent condition that impacts your cognitive abilities, constituting the majority (60-80 percent) of dementia cases. In addition to Alzheimer’s, other types like vascular and Lewy body dementia contribute to this challenging landscape. Recognising the signs and symptoms in their early stages is crucial to potentially mitigate their effects on individuals and their families. It is also important to steer clear of certain risk factors that may aggravate the symptoms. Did you know stress also increases Alzheimer’s risk?

Chronic stress has been associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and may exacerbate symptoms in those already affected. It is essential to understand how managing stress and adopting relaxation techniques can play a vital role in potentially reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Early indications of Alzheimer’s often involves memory issues and language struggles, gradually progressing to difficulties in daily activities. Individuals may experience mild forgetfulness, trouble finding the right words, or challenges in organising thoughts. As the disease advances, severe memory loss, confusion, and significant impairments in cognitive functions become apparent. While living alone does not directly cause Alzheimer’s, social isolation can potentially impact cognitive health. Therefore, fostering social connections, along with medical intervention, becomes paramount in our collective approach to tackling this challenge.

Also Read: 8 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease you should not ignore

stress and Alzheimer's disease risk
Stress increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How does stress increase Alzheimer’s risk?

Stress is known to have detrimental effects on overall health, including the brain. Chronic stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, when consistently elevated, can lead to inflammation and damage to brain cells. Over time, this may contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

How to manage stress to reduce Alzheimer’s risk?

Efficiently managing stress is paramount in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Here are some strategies that can help:

1. Mindfulness and meditation

Practising mindfulness and meditation can significantly reduce stress levels. These techniques focus on being present at the moment, promoting relaxation, and reducing anxiety.

2. Regular exercise

Engaging in regular physical exercise is a powerful way to combat stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, which help in reducing stress and anxiety.

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3. Adequate sleep

Ensuring sufficient and quality sleep is essential in managing stress. Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels and negatively affect brain health.

4. Healthy eating

A balanced diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients supports brain health and resilience against stress.

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5. Therapeutic activities

Engaging in hobbies, creative pursuits, or spending time in nature can be therapeutic and aid in stress reduction.

Also read: Alzheimer’s disease: Signs your elders may be suffering from it

stress and Alzheimer's
Therapeutic techniques can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How do relaxation techniques help manage Alzheimer’s disease?

Incorporating relaxation techniques into one’s routine can complement stress management efforts and further reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s:

  • Deep breathing: Deep breathing exercises can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels by calming the nervous system.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to release physical tension and induce relaxation.
  • Yoga and Tai Chi: These mind-body practices combine gentle movements with focused breathing, promoting relaxation, flexibility, and stress reduction.
  • Aromatherapy and essential oils: Certain scents, like lavender or chamomile, can have a calming effect on the mind and body, aiding in relaxation.

Takeaway

While Alzheimer’s disease remains a complex and challenging condition, a holistic approach that includes stress management and relaxation techniques can significantly contribute to reducing the risk. It’s essential to recognise the early signs of Alzheimer’s and proactively adopt lifestyle adjustments, along with medical intervention and social engagement, to enhance brain health and overall well-being. By fostering a supportive environment and prioritising stress management, we can collectively work towards a future with a reduced burden of Alzheimer’s disease.

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About the Author

Dr Pankaj B Borade is a full-time consultant Psychiatrist at Ruby Hall Clinic. He is a qualified MD Psychiatrist skilled and trained in the management of depression, anxiety problems, OCD obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, conversion disorder, mood disorder, bipolar disorder, mania, schizophrenia, etc. He has a special interest in the field of sexology, and treatment of premature ejaculation problems, erectile problems, compulsive masturbation, performance anxiety, Hypoactive female sexual desire, etc. He is experienced in counselling and other psychotherapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, behavioural therapies, psychotherapies, etc. ...Read More

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