Scientists Shed Light on Link Between Depression, Dementia
Researchers deem depression an independent risk factor for dementia.
By Dennis Thompson Jr., HealthDay News
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Older people with depression are more likely to develop dementia, but researchers have been unable to explain the exact nature of the relationship between the two.
Specifically, they haven't been able to figure out the direction in which the relationship works -- does depression help bring on dementia, or does dementia cause people to become depressed?
A new study published online July 30 in the journal Neurology sheds more light on the mystery.
Depression is a risk factor for dementia, researchers report, and people with more symptoms of depression tend to suffer a more rapid decline in thinking and memory skills. While the study found an association between the two, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
RELATED: Eating Helps Dementia Patients Avoid Depression
Depression accounted for about 4.4 percent of the difference in mental decline that could not be attributed to dementia-related damage found in the brain, the researchers said.
"This is a risk factor we should take seriously," said lead author Robert Wilson, senior neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University. "Treating depression can reduce the risk of dementia in older people."
The study involved over 1,700 people, with an average age of 77, who had no thinking or memory problems at the start of the study.
Video: Dr. David Howard on new research shedding light on depression
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