Why going through a major life crisis can really do a number on your health Show Notes

Friday, October 18, 2013 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Going through a major life crisis can really do a number on your health!  That’s according to a new study from Swedish researchers.

According to a story from Fox News, a major life stressor can have long-term consequences on both your physical AND mental health.  In fact the scientists found a link between major stressors, like divorce, and developing dementia later in life.

Previous studies on severe stressors such as combat, living through natural disasters or serious trauma, has found that those traumatic life events have a significant impact on a person’s health over a lifetime.

But the research on more common stressors has been less clear.  Some studies have linked events like losing a parent early in life or the death of a spouse with an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

This new research looked at the impact of 18 common stressors, such as divorce, widowhood, serious illness or death of a child, mental illness or alcoholism in a close family member, and chronic unemployment,

There are several biological explanations for the increased risk. Psychological stress has been shown to increase the stress response, raise levels of stress hormones, cause structural changes in parts of the brain, influence learning and memory, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.  All of those factors have been linked to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The authors of the new study say that people who have experienced a major life stressor may want to seek behavioral therapy to cope with the stress.  They say it may not only help them in the short term, but may protect their brain later in life.

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL. 
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