Pessimism and depression increase dementia risk

commendations to make based on our study," says Dr. Geda, "it is always a good idea to promote health and minimize disease by taking appropriate health measures.

"We are reporting our findings in an era where there are empirically validated interventions to modify 'personality' toward emotional health; hence, we are optimistic about the future. Contemporary studies indicate that 'personality' is a modifiable cognitive, emotional and behavioral style. For example, a pessimistic person can acquire the skills and habits of looking at the whole picture, i.e., the positive, negative and neutral, rather than habitually discounting the positive and neutral and magnifying the negative."

This study was designed to test more rigorously the findings of an earlier, exploratory study conducted at Mayo Clinic with a smaller sample of individuals that suggested pessimism, depression, anxiety and social introversion could be risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Geda and colleagues conducted this study to determine what types of personality or cognitive style -- one's habitual way of perceiving, remembering, behaving and experiencing emotions -- were associated with the development of dementia or cognitive impairment 30 or 40 years later. He and colleagues extracted a sample of approximately 3,500 individuals living in and around Olmsted County, Minn., from 50,000 individuals who took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) as part of a research project -- not for psychiatric reasons -- at Mayo Clinic between 1962 and 1965. This test assesses thoughts, feelings, attitudes, physical and emotional symptoms, and life experiences. In 2004, Dr. Geda and fellow investigators used a structured interview of the individuals -- or a family member in the case of deceased or incapacitated persons -- to arrive at a standard diagnosis of dementia or cognitive impairment. Dr. Geda, who was blinded to the MMPI scores of the study subjects, then reviewe

Contact: Lisa Lucier
Mayo Clinic

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