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Alzheimer’s disease, though not a mental health disorder, does impact our mental health, and it can be impacted by our mental health.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is a wonderful time to evaluate our own mental health and how our mental health is impacting our total body health. 

Our mental health is tied to the overall success of our bodies, and being aware of changes or concerns that can be addressed early, can make a difference in a lifelong condition or a condition that impacts our whole lives. We know that mental health is important and has, luckily, become more of a focused topic of conversation in the last few years. Keeping this in mind, there are important total body health concerns that should be just as important. Many other diseases and illnesses can be tied to overall body health, mental health, mental acuity, and conative function. Alzheimer’s disease, though not a mental health disorder, does impact our mental health, and it can be impacted by our mental health. 

Alzheimer’s Disease

The National Institute on Aging defines Alzheimer’s disease as a form of brain disorder that is a form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and even the body’s ability to perform simple tasks. Symptoms generally appear later in life and are considered the seventh leading cause of death in the US, as well as the leading cause of dementia in older adults. 

The National Institute also says that there there are complex changes involved with Alzheimer’s disease, which can begin even a decade before the symptoms appear. Genes and genetic mutations may be the cause, but there are many factors. Initial damages impact the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, killing neurons as the brain begins to shrink. Damage done is permanent and leaves the brain tissue significantly shrunk. This impacts the patient’s ability to communicate, think, and maintain normal cognitive function. 

How Physical and Mental Health Help

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and current treatment aim to delay or prevent further decline, there are links between physical and mental health and Alzheimer’s. The National Institute of Aging says that physical activity, diet, cognitive training, and a combination of these are used as non-drug interventions. Focusing on helping people maintain their mental health and mental functions are used in combination with treating the underlying disease progression, as well as managing behavioral symptoms. 

The National Institute of Aging states that while dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not mental illnesses, they can be associated with mental disorders and psychotic disorders. There are links with earlier development of the disease in individuals with prior existing mental disorder diagnoses. 

It is important to evaluate our own mental health, and looking for signs of change can make a huge impact on the early detection of diseases and illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease. Taking care of our physical health with dieting and exercising, in addition to focusing positive efforts to better our own mental health, are excellent steps in helping to support total body health. As we go throughout the month of May, take some time to focus on ourselves and our physical and mental health. 

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, click here. 

For more information on the Nation Institute of Aging, click here.