New research by the University College London provides more evidence regarding the cognitive debt hypothesis, indicating that sufferers of highly prevalent conditions such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder, who experience long-term repetitive negative thinking (RNT), might be at an increased risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease.
The findings first appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. In the UCL study, the primary objective was to “empirically examine relationships between RNT and markers of AD, compared with anxiety and depression symptoms.”
The study examined cognitive assessments of 292 participants in late-adulthood. The tests included the use of amyloid-positron emission tomography (PET) and tau-PET scans.
According to the findings, RNT correlated with a decline in global cognition, decreased memory, and abnormal amyloid and tau deposition in the brain. Researchers determined that the cognitive decline observed in the participants was similar to that of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
“We propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia as it could contribute to dementia in a unique way,” said Natalie Marchant, co-author of the study.
“We hope that our findings could be used to develop strategies to lower people’s risk of dementia by helping them to reduce their negative thinking patterns.”
Reducing repetitive negative thinking might be a way to reduce the risk of dementia, but researchers say this should be a focus for future studies.