People who undergo traumatic experiences or endure stressful situations during their midlife years may be more likely to suffer from cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss as they age compared to their counterparts who manage to sail through life more smoothly, according to a study from Sweden that followed participants over decades, keeping track of their mental health.
The study only included women, but the researchers say there is no reason to assume their observations wouldn’t be applicable to men as well, although, as other studies have shown, the sexes respond to stress differently in a number of ways.
What is remarkable about the findings of this study is that stress-producing events, even if they had taken place long in the past, continued to have a negative impact on people’s mental well-being. Whether they could pinpoint the source to certain incidents like a divorce or the loss of loved ones, or whether they were exposed to high stress levels for extended periods of time, a.k.a. chronic stress, the potential for lasting health damages increased significantly as they grew older.
For more news from Timi Gustafson, R.D., please visit her food and health website.