Alzheimer’s Disease: Anxiety Could Be An Early Indication Of Debilitating Disease

Study suggests anxiety and Alzheimer's could be linked.

Memory Loss and Dementia
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Study suggests anxiety and Alzheimer's could be linked.

Alzheimer’s disease could be linked to anxiety, according to a recent study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. Although researchers have not determined whether anxiety actually causes Alzheimer’s disease, higher levels of beta-amyloid proteins were detected in the brains of patients with both conditions.

As described by ALZ.org, Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which interferes with a patient’s cognitive ability, memory, and motor skills.

In most cases, symptoms of Alzheimer’s develop slowly. However, they get progressively worse until the disease completely stips patients of their memory and their physical health.

Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Patients who are diagnosed with the debilitating disease generally live between four and 20 years following the initial diagnosis. In most cases, the prognosis is better for patients who are younger and do not have any pre-existing medical conditions.

At this time, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s. There are a number of treatment options available, which may slow the progression of the disease or temporarily ease some of the symptoms. However, as reported by the Washington Post, it has been 14 years since a new Alzheimer’s drug was approved by the FDA. Despite more than 400 clinical trials, no new medications have been proven to cure or significantly slow the debilitating disease.

In an effort to better understand Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Nancy Donovan and a team of researchers performed tests on a total of 270 adults between the ages of 62 and 90. At the time the tests were performed, the subjects were confirmed to have “normal cognitive functioning.”

As reported by Medical News Today, the subjects were tested over a period of five years for symptoms of anxiety, loss of cognitive ability, and depression.

Dr. Donovan and her colleagues discovered several subjects, who developed increased anxiety throughout the study, were also found to have increased levels of the beta-amyloid protein in their brains. The researchers noted that patients with Alzheimer’s disease often have increased levels of beta-amyloid.

Therefore, the researchers concluded that an increase in anxiety, with the presence of increased beta-amyloid, could predict the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Although more research will be necessary to determine the specific link between Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety, scientists believe the findings could eventually help doctors make earlier diagnoses.