All-women’s Alzheimer’s Report: Stress, Midlife Crisis and Other Demons

Stressed woman

Stressed Alzheimers woman

The female mind is a lonely hunter. The female body is a sacred vessel, in the holy scripture of Wicca, Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s all about the icon of fertility and giving birth. Strangely, the interconnection of the female body and soul may also attribute to various problems. In the “Prospective Population Study of Women”, a Swedish study at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, it is stated that, “Common psychosocial stressors may have severe and long-standing physiological and psychological consequences.” Female stress problems are endless, with her now becoming the main breadwinner in a lot of families, with single motherhood dominating the middle-class societies, high divorce rates, cheating husbands, self-conscious image on body and the mania of anti-aging culture that pressures women NOT TO GROW UP! Every woman faces a personal crisis of her own as well as a female-oriented crisis (Hello, PMS) and a commonly acquired crisis (Midlife crisis, nervous breakdown, addiction …etc). It is scary though, to discover that stressors as globally experienced by each and every woman of us (alcoholism, getting fired, divorce) would make a woman more prone to Alzheimer’s disease. So it’s not just flushes, mood swings and tampons, now we also have dementia on our agenda. Hilarious!

“Prospective Population Study of Women” at the University of Gothenburg carried out a longitudinal study on 800 Swedish women born between 1914 and 1930 for 40 years (between 1968 and 2005), with 104 women from the study cases reporting various forms of dementia at the age of 78 and 153 reporting Alzheimer’s in specific. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that women who were exposed to at least one stressor in their thirties were 21% more prone to develop Alzheimer’s and 15% more inclined to develop other forms of dementia in their 70s. Researchers tested various types of prevalent stressors including divorce, alcohol abuse in the family, unemployment, widowhood, mental illness in the family and midlife crisis. As a result of these stressors, tested women showed signs of fear, anxiety, sleep deprivation and distress.

So what is the secret? The study –recently published in the British Medical Journal, BMJ- cited that stress disrupts all the biological processes in our body. Stress affects the homeostasis (biochemical equilibrium) of the human body and the hormonal balance in the body, which consequently detriments the immune system, making the body weakened and unable to combat certain diseases. Chronic stress may contribute to various physiological problems such as asthma, back pain, arrhythmias, fatigue, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers. Alzheimer’-specific risk factors attributed to stress include structural and functional damage to the hippocampus which plays a huge role in memory function and maintaining cognitive processes. Stress also disrupts the function of the raphe nucleus which synthesizes serotonin, the hormone known as the “mood regulator”. In the recently published study, stress has also been linked to increasing the buildup of Amyloid beta plaque and tau protein, allowing for their accumulation in the Alzheimer’s patients’ brain, thus their cognitive functions and memory deteriorate.

So apart from all the science up there, a woman should kick the shit out of her stress. Premenstrual syndrome, car accidents, discovering that your husband is cheating on you are not such huge deals anyway. Okay…it might be a great deal really, but certainly your brain function is really a greater deal, how you control your body and maintain your homeostasis, how you tolerate the bitches at the beauty parlor calling you a “fatty” for gaining those few pounds, how you react to increasing taxes and the kids bursting with hormones all of a sudden, it only falls on you. Remember, Alzheimer’s is a big deal. It’s true we cannot vaccinate against it but we might as well try. Place your demons in a box, embrace your midlife crisis with a smile and high heels and try to make amends with stress for the less he visits you, the better.


Written by: Jaylan Salah


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