Stressful events like divorce, miscarriage, widowhood, break-ups etc in the life of a woman may increase the risk of developing dementia at a later stage of her life, a new study has found.
The researchers carried study on 800 women in Sweden who periodically underwent testing between 1968 and 2005 to find out the physiological effect of trauma on their life.
The researchers found that experiencing such psychosocial trauma in midlife was linked with a 21 percent increase in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and a 15 percent increased risk of developing any type of dementia, over nearly four decades.
These women were also at increased risk of experiencing prolonged periods of distress or feelings of irritability, tension, nervousness, fear, anxiety or sleep disturbances.
For the study, the participants were asked whether they had experienced any of 18 psychosocial stressors, including whether their spouse or close relative had a mental illness or abused alcohol, or whether they or their husband had lost a job. Medical records and other information from psychiatric examinations were used to determine whether participants developed dementia over a 38-year period.
About a quarter of participants said they had experienced one psychosocial stressor, 23 percent experienced two stressors, 30 per cent experienced three stressors and 16 percent experienced four stressors. The most common stressor was mental illness in a first-degree relative.
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.