Recent research has found a close association between several mental health conditions and dementia, which is basically the loss of cognitive functioning – remembering, reasoning and thinking— to such an extent that it affects the daily life and activities of people, later in life. While research has not been able to establish a causal link so far, mental health disorders remain a critical risk factor for both later-onset and early-onset dementia in men and women.
Furthermore, mental health conditions were found to be more strongly associated with dementia than chronic physical diseases, an outcome that researchers did not expect. These results have various implications including better and timely treatment of mental health illnesses to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, which is the most common type of dementia as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other forms of dementia later in life.
Notably, researchers have also found mental health conditions to be indicators of risk rather than definitive causes of dementia. Moreover, these disorders should be considered as early warning signs of subsequent cognitive decline. Although the mechanism for the association is unclear, it is suspected to involve various factors. For example, lifelong brain vulnerability may manifest itself as mental health disorders earlier in life and subsequently as dementia later in life.
Besides, medications for mental health conditions, such as antipsychotics, also might augment the risk for dementia. However, despite these factors, researchers were quick to reiterate that mental health disorders may not always lead to dementia. Nevertheless, people with mental health conditions are advised to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercising regularly and increasing their physical activity to mitigate the risk of dementia in old age.
This is further reinforced by the World Health Organization (WHO), which advocates getting regular exercise, avoiding the consumption of alcohol, maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels and eating a healthy diet to reduce the risk of dementia. Additionally, recent investigations conducted by the National Institute of Health have found that ‘acting impulsively’ and ‘not caring about the feelings of other people could also be signs of dementia.
The health body adds ‘some people with dementia cannot control their emotions and their personalities may change.
Experiencing poor judgement, confusion and memory loss
Difficulty in understanding and expressing thoughts, reading and writing
Losing interest in hobbies or normal routine activities
Hallucinating or experiencing paranoia or delusions
Wandering and getting lost in familiar places
As dementia is unpreventable because in most cases, the causes are not known, following a healthy lifestyle and successfully addressing mental health conditions early remain the best methods to mitigate the likelihood of dementia later in life.
If you feel that you need dementia treatment in Kolkata then visit Manipal Hospital and book an appointment with the best neurologist.
Consultant - Psychiatry
Manipal Hospital Salt Lake
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