A new study reveals that anxious people are one and a half times more likely to develop dementia, compared to their calmer counterparts. Swedish researchers looked at 1,082 identical and non-identical twins for 28 years, and had them answer questions and undergo dementia screenings once every three years. They discovered that subjects who self-reported higher levels of anxiety were more likely to develop dementia.
Study co-author Margaret Gatz explains, “The subjects with anxiety who later developed dementia are people that experience more than the usual symptoms of anxiety. They are people who you would say operate at a high level of anxiety. They are fidgety. They are frantic, frazzled people.” The theory is that those with anxiety tend to have higher levels of stress hormones, including cortisol, which may be damaging to parts of the brain, including the hippocampus, which stores memory.