The 27 Stressful Life Events That Can Lead to Alzheimer’s

A new study has found that stressful life experiences can age the brain approximately 1.5 years, and that, specifically, experiencing one of these 27 stressful life events could lead to Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia later in life.The 27 Stressful Life Events That Can Lead to Alzheimer's

Learn more about the effects of stress on brain health and the 27 life events that can cause damage and lead to Alzheimer’s.

The Effects of Stress on Brain Health

The latest study to evaluate the effects of stress on brain health was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health evaluated data from 1,320 participants who shared information about their own stressful life experiences and then participated in cognitive tests.

Researchers found that every stressful event was equal to 1.5 years of brain aging across all participants, except for African-Americans, where every stressful event was equal to 4 years of brain aging.

The study also found that African-Americans reported 60% more stressful events on average than Caucasians, which may help to explain why there is a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s there.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Dr. Maria Carrillo, said:

“The stressful events were throughout the lifespan – a variety of things that you can imagine would be impactful and stressful. Dementia and brain health should be thought of as life-course issues, not just mid-life or late-life [problems]. We have to start thinking about brain health from birth, if not before.”

The link between Alzheimer’s and stress needs to be further examined, but researchers believes that stress can cause inflammation in the brain, making the brain more susceptible to health problems like dementia. Stress can also lead to depression, a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and related forms of the disease.

The 27 Life Events That Can Damage the Brain, Lead to Alzheimer’s

These stressful life events have been linked to causing damage to the brain, which could lead to Alzheimer’s.

The likelihood of developing the disease could increase after experiencing just one of the events listed below:

  1. Being expelled or suspended from school
  2. Being fired from a job
  3. Being sent away from home
  4. Cheating partner
  5. Declaring bankruptcy
  6. Death of a child
  7. Death of a parent
  8. Death of a sibling
  9. Divorced parents
  10. Dropping out of college
  11. Dropping out of school
  12. Experiencing combat
  13. Facing long-term unemployment
  14. Financial or property loss
  15. Going on welfare
  16. In-law problems
  17. Joining the military
  18. Legal difficulties
  19. Loss of home to fire or flood
  20. Parent cannot find work
  21. Parent drinking excessively
  22. Parent using drugs
  23. Physical attack
  24. Prison sentence
  25. Repeating a year of school
  26. Serious accident involving child
  27. Sexual assault

Do you suspect that stressful life events can lead to Alzheimer’s and have you seen the effects of stress on brain health in your family? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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  • vicki

    My father passed away 16 yrs ago and now looking back I see the signs of dementia starting back then for my mother, i have said many times I think it was the shock of dad passing away that mum couldn’t handle and now reading you article has confirmed my thoughts. Mum is now 94 yrs old and going ok but each week I see a decline in her ability to be able to cope.

  • Stroke

    1. A documented 33% dementia chance post-stroke from an Australian study? May 2012.

    2. Then this study came out and seems to have a range from 17-66%. December 2013.

    3. A 20% chance in this research. July 2013.

  • Johannah O’

    Definitely think stress related life events can be a factor in dementia

  • skippy

    My grandma died from Alzheimer, my grandfather is an x cop and very verbally abusive. i was abused by a boyfriend and for a few years, the chemistry in my brain was the same as my dying from Alzheimer grandmother. she suffered with Alzheimer for 13 years and eventually died, because the things my grandpa would say to her were so unintelligible it literally shrank her brain to death.

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