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Recessions May Contribute to Mental Decline Years Later: Study

Recessions May Contribute to Mental Decline Years Later: Study

11/21/13

THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Recessions can have long-lasting effects, and they may not be just financial.

A new study has found that people affected by an economic downturn in middle age may be at risk for mental decline later in life.

Researchers examined data from 12,000 people aged 50 and older in 11 European countries.

Men aged 50 to 74 who lived through four or more recessions by the time they were in their mid- to late-40s had lower scores on mental abilities such as memory, speech and math than those who did not experience a recession, the investigators found.

Their findings were published online Nov. 20 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The impact of recessions on women appeared to occur at an earlier age, according to a journal news release.

Job loss and having to take part-time work or lower-paying, lower-status jobs may explain the toll that recessions can take on people's mental abilities, suggested researcher Anja Leist, at the University of Luxembourg, and colleagues.

Previous research has suggested that good working conditions may help people build up a mental "reserve," which in turn affects mental performance at a later age.

Although the study found an association between economic recessions in mid-life and later declines in thinking skills, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers tips for getting through tough economic times.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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