Worried that you’re losing your mind?

I gave up worrying for Lent. No kidding. I reflected on the futile nature of worrying about things beyond my control, as most things are, and how much wasted energy I've put into worry in my 56 years.

It's been easier to give it up than I imagined, because once I begin down the worry chain, I catch myself. Today, a story reinforced the negative practice of worrying.

Turns out that anxiety (and depression) might increase a person's chance of developing Alzheimer's. According to The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, scientists in the U.K. followed 70,000 men and women.

"All were free of dementia at the start of the study period, in 1994, and their average age was 55. Study participants were giving annual health questionnaires that asked about problems like anxiety, depression, poor social functioning and loss of confidence. All are general measures of psychological health, and the higher the scores, the greater the likelihood of anxiety and depression. By the end of the study period, 10 years later, more than 10,000 of the study participants had died from various causes. According to death reports, 455 had died with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Those men and women with the highest mental distress scores were more likely to have died from dementia than those who were psychologically healthy. The link between psychological distress and death from dementia was independent of other factors that may raise dementia risk."

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.



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