Middle Aged And Elderly With Depression Have Higher Risk Of Dementia
A report in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry draws a link between people in mid-life and late-life, suffering from depression and the possibility of them developing dementia.
More than five million people in the US alone suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and the health care costs run at a staggering $172 Billion.
Deborah E. Barnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues explain how :
"Prevalence and costs of AD and other dementias are projected to rise dramatically during the next 40 years unless a prevention or a cure can be found.
Therefore, it is critical to gain a greater understanding of the key risk factors and etiologic underpinnings of dementia from a population-based perspective."
The researchers evaluated more than 13,000 long term Kaiser Permanente members, looking for a history of depressive symptoms in midlife (1964-1973) and in late life (1994-2000), and compared the results with those suffering from Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia; dementia resulting from brain damage from reduced blood flow to the brain.
Depressive symptoms were evident in 14 percent of study participants during midlife, and 9 percent later in life, while just over 4 percent suffered during both periods. The follow-up spanned six years, and 22.5 percent of patients were diagnosed with dementia, 5.5% with Alzheimer's disease and 2.3 percent with vascular dementia.
When comparing the results with normal occurrences of the diseases, patients with late-life depressive symptoms had twice the risk of Alzheimer's, while those with midlife and late-life symptoms had a three-fold increase in vascular dementia risk.
The authors go on to conclude that :
"Our findings suggest that chronic depression during the life course may be etiologically associated with an increased risk of dementia, particularly VaD, whereas depression that occurs for the first time in late life is likely to reflect a prodromal stage of dementia, in particular AD."