Research finds a link between depression and dementia

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A 10-year Dutch study has found that your blues could be a precursor to dementia, with 21 per cent of respondents who had severe depression later developing the condition.

Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands conducted a population study of 3325 people aged 55 and over, between 1993 and 2004, to examine possible links between depression and dementia. The results showed that 21 per cent of participants, whose depression increased over time, were eventually diagnosed with dementia, compared with the 10 per cent who reported low symptoms of depression.

The study abstract, published in The Lancet in April, surmised that signs of depression may be an early indicator of dementia developing in the brain before the more obvious signs of memory loss. Inflammation was also present in episodes of both depression and cognitive decline.

“Depressive symptoms that gradually increase over time appear to better predict dementia later in life than other trajectories of depressive symptoms,” said study co-author Dr M. Arfan Ikram. “There are a number of potential explanations, including that depression and dementia may both be symptoms of a common underlying cause, or that increasing depressive symptoms are on the starting end of the dementia continuum for older adults.”

However, the research hasn’t established the nature of the relationship – which one is the cause and which is the symptom?

A study from July 2014 found similar results. More than 1700 people, with an average age of 77, began the study with no cognitive or memory problems. They were screened every year for eight years, looking for symptoms of depression and loneliness, and had their thinking and memory skills tested. During the study, about half of the participants developed mild cognitive and memory problems – a total of 315, or 18 per cent, were diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers established that high levels of depression before a dementia diagnosis were linked to a drastic decline in cognitive and memory function, however, the onset of dementia did not seem to cause an increase in depression.

Read more at Generations Healthcare.

Do you think better understanding of depression treatment is necessary, particularly among the ageing population?

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Written by Louise Baxter

4 Comments

Total Comments: 4
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    One doesn’t have to be Einstein to realise that the “blues” or depression may lead to dementia as it is one of the body’s unconscious mechanisms to combat emotional pain by trying to wipe it from memory.

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    I don’t have dementia, but I am surrounded by people who do have it. I would tell you their names if I could remember them.

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    Got nearly all those symptons but I try not to let on I think it’s all just part of getting older & I think it’s best not to remember some things . As long as U don’t hurt any-one else & try to look after yourself well , we may as well relax a little & enjoy life .They didn’t mention sight deteriorating but it does .We can become quite inventive with our excuses / stories & have a little harmless fun . Keep out of hospitals & nursing homes WHAT WILL BE WILL BE

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    Some people reckon I spend miles too much time on my computer, but it is no all playing games. I have a Folder called “Life as I remember’. At this stage it has about 10 stories of incidences or experiences we have been through during our 76 years. It is quite surprising how once you start writing about an experience more and more details float back into your memory box. My writings are anything from 1 to 6 pages long, so I’ll post sample here and it might encourages you to try something similar. here goes:
    *************************************
    OUR UNINVITED GUEST

    It was 50 years ago on Saturday August 5, 1960, probably about 3pm and Val and I had been married exactly 3 weeks. We were living in the Causeway Flats adjacent to the Causeway in Perth. Val was taking a bath and I had just finished bringing the furniture off the balcony after spring cleaning our unit. We had large French doors leading onto the balcony and the curtains were about a foot (30 cm) short and left a large gap at the bottom. Out of nowhere I heard a bump against the French doors and then noticed those gigantic hairy feet, marching back and forth along our balcony with only a sheet of glass between me and what turned out to be an escaped lion from Ashton’s Circus. I immediately went to the bathroom and said to Val “ get out of the bath, there is a lion on our balcony”. I then opened the front door for a quick departure as Val came out of the bathroom with a towel barely covering what Val liked to cover, and she said, “what is wrong?” I pointed down at the bottom of the curtains, and in an instant my new bride covered 20 feet and was in my arms all in about 0.5 of a second. The towel was a problem, I seem to remember. We were standing at the front door ready to bolt the instant that thing broke through the glass door. Which was likely, as the lion was bumping it’s bum against the glass as it continually pranced up and down the balcony. Then the lady that managed the units came past and asked what we were doing. I said there’s a lion on our balcony, look and pointed. She was no chicken, but with arms full of folded bed sheets she made about 5 steps at a time on her way up to the next floor. She returned shortly after and said to me “don’t leave your wife like that, get her something to put on”. I should point out that I was 20 year old and she was a bossy piece of gear so I did not argue. I had to walk within a meter of the glass doors to get to the bedroom when I quickly grabbed Val’s going away coat from our wedding night, and hastily retreated to the front door. I was completely stressed out by this time as the lion had been on our balcony about 15 – 20 minutes and I had had to walk passed it several times, then Val says “not my going away coat”. Being a brand new husband of only 3 weeks, I took a deep breath and said as nicely as I could through gritted teeth “please put it on sweetheart”. It probably took the circus people a good half hour to arrive with truck and trainers etc, and back it up to the balcony and put rope netting around the sides before they started coaxing the lion into the truck. The rest of the night was a night to forget, neither of us could sleep and packed up and went and woke up the in-laws at about 1 or 2 am, looking for a safe bed.
    Now the reason for all the excitement. Apparently during the circus’s afternoon show the lion truck was backed up to the performing ring at a slight angle and the last lion decided to jump up through the gap at the top and ran along the roof of the truck and jumped down. It then proceeded to run around Langley Park for maybe a Kilometre past 1000s of teenage girls and boys playing Basketball and Hocky etc, as they did every Saturday afternoon. The Lion was obviously totally confused and lost when it landed on our balcony. Considering Langley Park was absolutely packed with kids , it could easily have been a disaster. People said “ you didn’t have to worry they are well trained” and I said “maybe they are but I am not, and the look on my face would have spooked it, without any doubt.
    July 1960 July 2010

    Had photo’s here, but they didn’t paste.

    John & Val Simpson


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