After following 800 women for nearly four decades, researchers say certain personality dispositions can put you at risk for the memory-robbing disease.
Middle-aged women with an average age of 46 were given a battery of personality tests and asked to make note of any periods of prolonged stress longer than one month to determine certain traits and tendencies.
Researchers then looked at how outgoing or withdrawn participants were, if they were easily distressed, prone to worrying and jealousy, and if they showed signs of neuroticism-a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology characterised by anxiety, fear and other things.
Over the course of the study, 19 percent of women developed dementia, a kind of brain disaese. But women who scored high for neuroticism were twice as likely to develop the disease than their low-stress counterparts. Withdrawn women with high stress scores were twice as likely as outgoing and less distressed women to develop Alzheimer’s.
It’s not known exactly what brings on the disease, but experts believe it to be a combination of lifestyle factors, genetics, and environment. Other research has also suggested stress could be a contributing factor.
A 2013 study suggested that stress steroids in the brain can impair memory and increase the amount of plaque-building proteins. And taking a different approach, another study found that stress-busting yoga and meditation can even slow the progression of dementia.