Is Anxiety an Early Sign of Dementia?
Most people would name memory loss and other cognitive issues as the most common symptoms of dementia. It is also connected with behavioral changes, as the illness can affect the way the brain processes information and can alter a person’s personality entirely.
Some researchers are beginning to study whether there is a connection between diseases like Alzheimer’s and other disorders like depression and anxiety. The question for these researchers would be: is anxiety an early sign of dementia, or is it a symptom of another common affliction, such as generalized anxiety disorder? Let’s take a closer look at this.
The Connection Between Alzheimer’s and Anxiety
Recent research on adults over the age of 65 has revealed that they often experience symptoms of anxiety before signs of Alzheimer’s and other related disorders begin to manifest. This does not necessarily prove that the two are connected, as correlation does not always imply causation. However, researchers believe that the anxiety that manifests before other signs of dementia may indeed be due to a protein called beta-amyloid.
Beta-amyloid is a common protein associated with Alzheimer’s that collects between neurons in the brain. When patients over 65 reporting anxiety symptoms were studied, they were found to have elevated levels of this protein. While not conclusive, this does seem to indicate a connection between the two disorders.
Will Treating Anxiety Help Treat Dementia?
Alzheimer’s and other related conditions do seem to be related to anxiety disorders, but what is not known for certain is if treating one will in turn help treat the other. If the symptoms of anxiety are addressed medically, will this help to reduce the onset of other symptoms of dementia?
This question can be a difficult one to answer because the symptoms of anxiety do more than just run parallel to those of dementia. They can actually exacerbate one another. Recent studies do show that individuals with anxiety and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have an increased risk of transitioning from MCI to dementia.
Some studies do show there is a slowdown in the symptoms of MCI when anxiety is treated, but there are no definitive results at this time.
How To Get the Help You Need
So the question still remains: is anxiety an early sign of dementia, or do dementia patients have an increased risk of developing anxiety as a cause of their ailment? While the answer does seem to be unclear, it does appear that treating that anxiety may also possibly help to slow the progression of dementia.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, addressing it quickly may help to prevent a disease like Alzheimer’s from worsening. Part of the treatment could involve finding an assisted living community with ready access to medical care.
The community should have a thriving social scene and plenty of activities available to stimulate the mind, which can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety. A community such as the one at Solterra Senior Living works to ensure the well-being of every guest through the nurturing of not only the mind but the body and spirit as well.
Give us a call today and arrange a tour to see if Solterra Senior Living is right for you.