Loneliness May Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer's - Dementia

Yet another study indicating the profound link between mind and body. This time, researchers found that people who described themselves as lonely were twice as likely to develop dementia as those who were not lonely.

In fact, among over 800 80-year-olds, the risk of developing dementia increased about 51 percent for each one-point increase on the loneliness scale. What’s interesting, though, is that brain deposits that normally develop in Alzheimer’s patients were not seen among those who were lonely, indicating that the emotion triggers dementia through a different mechanism such as higher levels of stress hormones, cancer or high blood pressure (all of which are more likely to occur in lonely people).

Other studies have also shown that being socially isolated can cause health problems, including weakening your immune system. So, if you or someone you love often feels lonely, signing up for a class that interests you, volunteering or participating in community activities can go a long way toward helping you make new social connections.

Archives of General Psychiatry February 2007;64:234-240

USA Today February 6, 2007

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