Newswise — For the more than 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, or mild cognitive impairment, anxiety is often an attendant challenge.
Florida State University psychologists received a $3.7 million grant over five years from the National Institute on Aging to study intervention techniques aimed at combating anxiety and improving quality of life in these groups. increase.
Distinguished Research Professor Brad Schmidt, Chair of FSU’s Department of Psychology and Director of the Anxiety and Behavior Health Clinic, is the principal investigator of the study.
“We are thrilled that the NIA has funded this study, which represents an important adaptation of previous studies in a variety of clinical populations,” said Schmidt. “We hope that we can address a major gap in knowledge and research on treating anxiety in older adults with cognitive impairment.”
Studies suggest that elevated anxiety is a marker and potentially a contributor to the early onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD) among people with mild cognitive impairment. I’m here.
There are no established interventions for anxiety in individuals with ADRD or mild cognitive impairment, or interventions involving caregivers as part of the process. It can be highly dependent on an individual’s intact memory and cognitive abilities, resulting in high dropout rates.
The grant will allow Schmidt’s team to conduct the first clinical trial testing a simple computer-based intervention called cognitive anxiety sensitivity therapy in people with mild cognitive impairment and ADRD. Researchers will also test the patient’s care partners.
Anxiety susceptibility, a well-studied risk factor in the development of anxiety and other forms of psychopathology, functions as a broad stress amplifier. According to Schmidt, it can worsen one’s own physical and emotional sensory experience, leading to increased distress. You are more likely to experience exaggerated reactions to various stressors, including
Schmidt’s team plans to use interventions that include informative psychoeducational materials, but focuses on exposure exercises designed to reduce the internal stimuli that trigger conditioned fear and anxiety. Across clinical trials, there is evidence that these interventions significantly reduce anxiety susceptibility and that these reductions facilitate a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
“This grant is a two-center clinical trial that will allow us to test a new type of treatment for anxiety and distress in patients with cognitive impairment or early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. We want to determine whether it has a positive impact on cognitive decline over time,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt is an expert in the prevention and treatment of anxiety conditions, the investigation of biobehavioral parameters that influence the development and maintenance of anxiety conditions, and the relationship between anxiety conditions and physical health. In his previous research, he has led technology-based interventions developed to improve loneliness among military personnel, with promising results.
Sam Hakkaba, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said: “The awarding of this new R01 grant will help his program continue to thrive and aligns well with the college and university’s priority to expand funding to support health sciences.”
For more information and a list of current studies recruiting volunteers, visit the Anxiety and Behavioral Health Clinic on the FSU website.