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Researchers Find Link Between Dementia And Negative Thinking

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Photo: CNN

Researchers have discovered a connection between the accumulation of proteins in the brain and cognitive deterioration, and repetitive negative thinking (RNT). Moreover, these are signs of dementia.

The research will provide a basis for further studies to find how the connection will function. Further researches can also study if therapies for RNT treatment can slow down Alzheimer’s disease and different dementias.

What is dementia?

Various diseases that are identified by cognitive deterioration are termed as dementia. Characteristics of the disease include difficulty in remembering, making decisions, and thinking.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that dementia is more generalized rather than being a particular disease.

According to the CDC, there were at least 5.0 million adults, aged over 65 years, with dementia in 2014 in the US only. Experts estimate that there would be nearly 14 million such cases in 2060.

Prevalence and Severity

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent kind of dementia. It is one of the degenerative diseases. Degenerative diseases worsen with the passage of time.

People suffering from dementia may not be able to remember things or concentrate initially. As time passes, the disease becomes more severe. One may not be able to remember his own family member or friend. In a notable number of cases, the patients fail to continue a conversation and are unable to give a response to what’s happening around them.

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known, however, according to CDC, there are many factors.

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Currently, Alzheimer’s disease has no permanent treatment. The treatment focuses on slowing down the progression of the disease and reducing the symptoms temporarily.

Background

Previous research had found that many psychological factors have a correlation with Alzheimer’s disease. These factors include depression and anxiety. The researchers made a theory of cognitive debt obtained by RNT.

RNT is the reason behind the frequency of rumination processes. These processes are, thinking a lot regarding the past and agonizing about the future.

Research:

The researchers performed a study on 292 older adults who had longitudinal cognitive assessments. Analysts took their tests for RNT, anxiety, and depression.

The participants, 55 years or older, were in good physical health. All had at least one parent or two siblings with past or current AD dementia. The participants passed a measure of RNT before analysis. And those who failed were not analyzed.

The researchers found that cognitive decline depends directly on the RNT. Higher the RNT pattern is, the faster the decline would be. The study also found heaps of tau and amyloid proteins in the body of the patients.

There is a link between anxiety and depression, and cognitive deterioration. But interestingly, the accumulation of tau and amyloid proteins, and, depression and anxiety, were not related.

The leading author of the research Dr. Natalie Marchant of University College London, United Kingdom said that depression and anxiety as an adult and in old age are the hazard factors for dementia. She explained that particular thinking patterns suggested that depression and anxiety could be potential underlying reasons for why individuals with this disorder have an increased likelihood of developing dementia.

The researchers believe that RNT may increase the stress level of people which further adds to Alzheimer’s. However, they suggest that initial indications of Alzheimer’s may lead to RNT.

Future Work

However, the results are very promising and open a new area for research. The study laid stress on perceiving mental health issues seriously. Discovering a treatment requires further analysis of psychological behaviors.

“Looking after your mental health is important, and it should be a major public health priority, as it’s not only important for people’s health and well-being in the short term, but it could also impact your eventual risk of dementia,” said a co-author of the study Dr. Gael Chételat of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale and the Université de Caen-Normandie in France.