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Calm Happy People Half as Likely to Develop Dementia

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to a new analysis published January 19 in the American Academy of Neurology, people who are calm and happy are half as likely to develop dementia compared to others who are easily distressed, introverted, or unsociable.

Mental attitude important for a long life

Hui-Xin Wang, PhD, with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden and lead study authors tell us: "In the past, studies have shown that chronic distress can affect parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, possibly leading to dementia, but our findings suggest that having a calm and outgoing personality in combination with a socially active lifestyle may decrease the risk of developing dementia even further. However, these are early results, so how exactly mental attitude influences risk for dementia is not clear."

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The authors send questionnaires to 506 people with no signs of dementia. Over a period of six years, 144 people, identified through the questionnaires as easily distressed, nervous, or unhappy with their social lives, developed dementia. Those who were calm and happy had a 50% decreased risk of dementia.

The good news is, lifestyle factors can be modified as opposed to genetic factor that we can't control.

Estimates show that by 2030, one in seven Americans will have some form of dementia. The new study not only shows us that we can take charge of our health, but it emphasizes the negative impact of stress and unhappiness on brain health.

Past studies have also shown that happiness leads to longevity. The new study shows that we can reduce our risk of dementia in half by focusing on social activities, interaction with others and lifestyle changes that promote a calm and happy life.

Socially Active and Not Easily Stressed? You May Not Develop Dementia