Negative Thinking Could Play Role in Dementia Risk, Study Suggests

Repetitive gloomy thoughts can feed stress that causes a long list of health problems
June 25, 2020 Updated: June 25, 2020

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty type of person? A new study suggests that how you answer could play a role in dementia risk.

Repetitive negative thoughts (RNT) can put your brain under a lot of stress. Always assuming the worst, ruminating on past experiences you can’t change, and fearing the future can all put your mind in a precarious situation.

It may lead to increased forgetfulness, memory troubles, and decision-making.

New research shows that RNT is linked with a buildup up of tau and amyloid protein in the brain, which are key markers of dementia.

The study looked at two cohorts of participants, totaling 360 people, including 113 who had tau and amyloid proteins measured. Participants were either part of the Pre-Symptomatic Evaluation of Experimental of Novel Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (PREVENT-AD) research project or the Multi-Modal Neuroimaging in Alzheimer’s Disease study.

Researchers measured participants’ RNT, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline levels for up to four years. They found that the more RNT people had, the more rapidly that cognitive decline set in. Those participants also had increased tau and amyloid protein.

It should be noted that everybody experiences negative thoughts from time to time. When it happens on occasion, it’s unlikely to lead to severe problems. If you find yourself having these types of thoughts chronically, taking measures to stop the cycle is recommended.

The study was unable to prove cause and effect, however, the result indicates that treating negative thought patterns may play a role in slowing the onset of dementia.

Changing your inner monologue and easing RNT can be quite challenging. But with some guidance and effort, it’s possible to change thinking to lead to more positivity. A few things to try include:

  • Focusing on things in your life you can control and accepting the things you cannot
  • Making peace with your current situation
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Positive self-talk
  • Journaling
  • Identifying areas of negative thoughts
  • Acknowledging negativity, but focusing and prioritizing positive outcomes and situations
  • Embrace things you enjoy
  • Spend time doing things that make you feel good
  • Spend time with people that reinforce your positive feelings

It’s possible that how you think could play a role in your future brain health. Trying to reduce RNT may help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.