As society ages, we have more and more people living with dementia. It is an incurable disease and we are sort of accepting it as a sad part of life. Your lifestyle, genes and some other factors influence the risk of dementia. And the goal for you is to reduce that risk. Now scientists at UCL found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may double the risk of dementia.
Scientists at UCL analysed 13 studie, involving a total of 1,693,678 people. Scientists wanted to see if there is a connection between PTSD and dementia risk. They suspected that this link exists and wanted to research it in more detail. In particular, they wanted to see if PTSD increased the risk of being diagnosed with dementia 17 years later. And they found that people with PTSD faced a 61% higher risk of dementia. Two studies showed even more shocking results – according to them, PTSD can be associated with a doubled risk of dementia.
PTSD is sometimes called a veteran disease. People return from combat and experience severe life-altering symptoms due to war horrors that they’ve experienced. However, this study showed that common people who did not go to war and still experienced PTSD are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. PTSD may be caused by a variety of traumatic events – from abuse in childhood to abusive relationships. However, scientists say that veterans in many countries have a better access to therapy and are more aware of what PTSD is and what it does to a human.
Dr Vasiliki Orgeta, senior author of the study, said: “A lot of people with PTSD don’t access treatment, sometimes due to a lack of mental health care capacity but also because of stigma which often keeps people away from seeking help. We now have more evidence of how traumatic experiences and accessing treatment could have a long-lasting impact for individuals and influence future risk of developing dementia”.
This study showed that PTSD is a huge risk factor for dementia, but the real situation may even be worse. Not only PTSD may contribute to the onset of dementia, it may also trigger other conditions that are associated with dementia – depression, social isolation, or elevated alcohol intake. Scientists emphasize that we do not know how PTSD increases the risk of dementia, but they suspect it is related to high stress-related activity in the brain.
PTSD is more common than you think. Scientists think that COVID-19 pandemic may even raise the numbers of people living with PTSD. It is a treatable condition and people need to seek help if they feel the symptoms of this disorder. Especially now that we know that PTSD may be contributing to an elevated dementia risk.