How many times have you told someone to just “chill out?” You may want to take your own advice. The Huffington Post reports on Monday that Umea University’s Swedish scientist Sara K. Bengtsson’s research thesis suggests that the elevated levels of stress steroids in the brain during periods of stress have the power to inhibit general brain activity.
Anyone with the gift of common sense would be sure to nod their head at this little piece of information. It seems plausible. Surely everyone has experienced being so stressed out that their brain goes into overload and opts out, even if it’s just for a moment or two.
It’s no big secret that chronic stress can certainly increase the risk of other health problems like cancer and heart disease. Dementia seems to be one of the most logical pitfalls.
Bengtsson discovered that after a period of experiencing chronically high levels of allopregnanolon, study mice's brains also had higher levels of beta-amyloids; the proteins that form plaques between nerve cells in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Her work also showed that high levels of beta-amyloids were linked to brain synapse dysfunction.
To put things into perspective, reportedly a comparable acceleration of Alzheimer's disease in humans due to chronically elevated stress steroids could mean the difference between living independently and requiring professional assistance.
By now you may be convinced and a little nervous. So, what can you do? Stress expert Dr. Kathleen Hall states that a healthy lifestyle is important and can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
If you’re not collecting your social security check yet she advises slowing down and taking advantage of relaxation techniques. She claims that it “absolutely will affect your health outcome.”
Older adults should engage in physical exercises, brain training exercises, meditation and the development of a strong social network to ward off stress and create a calmer lifestyle. Senior living environments are very popular and certainly improve stimulation for our seniors as social events seem never-ending.
It's certainly worth trying anything you can think of to try to avoid it. Anyone who has been touched by Alzheimer's disease in any way shape or form can tell you that it is very difficult to cope with on any end of it.
If you think you're stressed out now, imagine how stressed out you would be if you woke up and didn't recognize anyone, didn't know where you were and wasn't even sure of who you were.