The Alzheimer’s Society will be funding the research, which will involve monitoring a group of 140 individuals affected by mild cognitive impairment or displaying “pre-dementia” symptoms in a bid to discover whether stress could be playing a role and acting as a trigger.
The experts will be taking both saliva and blood samples every six months over an 18 month period to see if they are able to measure biological stress markers.
Whilst of course this is not the case for everyone, past research has suggested that individuals who are affected by mild cognitive impairment could stand an increased risk of developing dementia at a later stage.
An additional Swedish study also suggested that stress during ‘mid-life’ could raise the risk of an individual developing dementia. The study followed approximately 1,500 women for a 35-year period, and discovered that dementia was around 65% higher in women who had reported mid-life stress than those who did not.
Professor Clive Holmes from the University of Southampton is to lead the upcoming study, and has said that whilst all of us experience stressful periods in our lives, the aim is now to understand how these stresses may become a risk factor of Alzheimer’s.
“This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments to fight the disease.
“We are looking at two aspects of stress relief – physical and psychological – and the body’s response to that experience.” He said.
Alzheimer’s Research UK have welcomed news of the study, and have said that any research that could possibly shed new light on effective intervention and treatment methods is welcomed.
The Alzheimer’s Society and the researchers working on the project have said they hope that the study will unveil clues to new treatments and more effective management techniques for the condition.
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned above, please visit our dementia page to find out more about how a counsellor may be able to help you.