Repetitive negative thinking patterns—such as ruminating about the past and worrying about the future—may be linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The takeaway: People over age 55 who exhibited higher levels of these negative thought patterns experienced more cognitive and memory decline over four years. They were also more likely to have the amyloid and tau protein deposits in their brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study led by the University College London and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
“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,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Marchant of UCL Psychiatry.
The study assessed: the cognitive function, memory, attention, spatial cognition, and language of 360 people over age 55. And 113 of those also underwent PET brain scans to measure tau and amyloid deposits.
Notably, the study also found that depression and anxiety were associated with subsequent cognitive decline but not with amyloid or tau deposition, suggesting that repetitive negative thinking could be the main reason why depression and anxiety contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Science Daily reported.
“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia as it could uniquely contribute to dementia,” Marchant said, possibly through its impact on such things as high blood pressure.
The researchers planned further studies to determine whether talk therapy or meditation, and mindfulness practices to help reduce repetitive negative thinking could, in turn, reduce the risk of dementia. (thank you to Learning strategies)
Are negative thoughts coursing through your mind?
Any worries and anxieties can be self-imposed hindrances to your success. That’s because part of your brain wants to avoid the physical or emotional discomforts of possible negative future situations. Until your brain knows you will be safe, it will operate to either fight with the source of that discomfort or flee from it.
Could you identify a situation in which you want to feel masterful?
What is the situation in which you have felt fearful or anxious?
Those fears were based on a negative expectation, projected into the shadows of uncertainty. They were internal pictures that something might go wrong—or a feeling that things might not be okay. Such expectations cause your nervous system to mobilize, getting you excited to do something to change.
The feelings generated are called anxiety. It is your mind and body’s best way of coping with the natural concern about entering an unknown future. But it has limited you.
However, this natural signal of concern can be used more appropriately.
- Imagine stepping into a situation in which you want to feel masterful. Examine what you want to accomplish.
- Consider any obstacles you anticipate and the physical and mental preparation you’ll need to overcome them. You can create the future you desire when free from negative expectations and their attending feelings.
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