Stressful experiences like divorce, losing your job can age your brain by years | fitness | Hindustan Times
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Stressful experiences like divorce, losing your job can age your brain by years

Prolonged stress can have a great impact on your health. Stressful life events may also affect our memory and thinking abilities.

fitness Updated: Jul 18, 2017 13:48 IST
Stressful events are linked to poorer cognitive function in later years of life.
Stressful events are linked to poorer cognitive function in later years of life.(Shutterstock)

Stress has become increasingly common in today’s day and age. While are there are various ways to combat it — from cycling to work to doing meditation and yoga — stressful life experiences such as divorce, death of a child or job loss can age the brain by several years. Researchers examined data of 1,320 people who reported stressful experiences over their lifetime and underwent tests in areas such as thinking and memory. The average age of the subjects’ was 58 years and included 1,232 white Americans and 82 African Americans.

Researchers from Wisconsin University in the US also found that African American experienced 60 per cent more stressful events than white people during their lifetimes. Each stressful experience was equivalent to about four years of cognitive ageing in African Americans, researchers said. A series of neuropsychological tests examined several areas, including four memory scores (immediate memory, verbal learning and memory, visual learning and memory, and story recall).

Stressful life experiences included incidents such as losing a job, the death of a child, divorce or growing up with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs. The results showed that a larger number of stressful events was linked to poorer cognitive function in later life, The Guardian reported.

“Studying the role of stress is complex. It is hard to separate from other conditions such as anxiety and depression, which are also thought to contribute towards dementia risk,” Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK. “We know that prolonged stress can have an impact on our health, so it’s no surprise that this study indicates stressful life events may also affect our memory and thinking abilities later in life,” he added.

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