Chronic Psychological Distress and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in Old Age

Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill, USA.
Neuroepidemiology (Impact Factor: 2.56). 02/2006; 27(3):143-53. DOI: 10.1159/000095761
Source: PubMed


Clinical and pathological data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project were used to test the hypothesis that distress proneness is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). More than 600 older persons without dementia completed a 6-item measure of neuroticism, a stable indicator of proneness to psychological distress. At annual intervals thereafter, they underwent uniform evaluations that included clinical classification of AD and administration of 18 cognitive tests. Those who died underwent brain autopsy from which composite measures of AD pathology were derived. During a mean of about 3 years of follow-up, 55 people were clinically diagnosed with AD. In analyses that controlled for age, sex, and education, persons with a high level of distress proneness (score = 24, 90th percentile) were 2.7 times more likely to develop AD than those not prone to distress (score = 6, 10th percentile). Adjustment for depressive symptomatology or frequency of cognitive, social, and physical activity did not substantially change this effect. Distress proneness was also associated with more rapid cognitive decline. Among 45 participants who died and underwent brain autopsy, distress proneness was unrelated to diverse measures of AD pathology and was inversely related to cognition after controlling for AD pathology. The results support the hypothesis that distress proneness is associated with increased risk of dementia and suggest that neurobiologic mechanisms other than AD pathology may underlie the association.

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    • "According to leading stress researcher Robert Sapolsky Ph.D., a stressor can be defined physiologically as any perturbation from the outside world that disrupts homeostasis [14]. Beyond the physical, stress can also be psychological or emotional and the potency and pathogenicity of psychological stress cannot be ignored, as it may increase the risk of developing AD [15]. Modern stress research is considered to have begun in the last century with the work of Walter B. Cannon [16], and later recognized as the first stage of Selye's general adaptation syndrome [17]. "
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    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 10/2015; 48(1):1-12. DOI:10.3233/JAD-142766 · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    • "The link between distress and the diagnosis of dementia remained after controlling for depression, levels of social and physical activity, and recency of cognitive symptoms. Echoing their prior work, the authors concluded that psychological distress is associated with cognitive decline, but not specifically with AD [6]. Peavy and colleagues performed a 3-year longitudinal study on 52 individuals, who were either cognitively intact or evidencing signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). "
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    Alzheimer's and Dementia 06/2014; 10(3):S155–S165. DOI:10.1016/j.jalz.2014.04.008 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    • "The rate of cognitive decline (disease progression) in 329 AD patients (214 from ANM, 87 from ARUK, and 28 from DCR) was calculated based on longitudinal MMSE assessments [26]. For the ANM cohort, MMSE scores were gathered at five visits, in which visits were 3 months apart (1-year follow-up). "
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