Depression in middle age is linked to later dementia


A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, have examined the association between
depression and later onset of dementia in one of the largest studies to date. More than 13,000 people’s medical records were examined to establish how the occurrence of depression is related to health later in life.

People, who had suffered from depression in their middle ages, were approximately 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia decades later. The later the diagnosis of depression increased the risk of suffering from dementia by as much as a 70 percent.

The type of dementia was also linked to when the individual had suffered from symptoms of depression. Those diagnosed in their mid-life were more likely to be diagnosed with vascular dementia while those experiencing depression later in life were at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vascular dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Society, results from the death of brain cells due to restrictions in blood supply to the brain the result of which can include problems communicating, physical weakness, severe confusion and word-finding difficulty, the misinterpretations of objects for example seeing a pyramid and thinking it is a palm tree.

Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, is caused by protein ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ developing in brain regions causing brain cell death and symptoms including confusion, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities and extreme mood swings.

Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the researchers of the current study concluded that re-occurring depression in middle ages could trigger the development of vascular dementia, while some uncertainty still surrounds depression in more elderly people and the onset of Alzheimer’s as clarity is still needed to establish whether depression causes Alzheimer’s or vice versa.

There are a number of things that can be done to keep depression at bay; mindfulness meditation has been found to help people overcome depressive thought patterns. Additionally, diet has been linked to both reducing the risk of suffering from depression and from being diagnosed with
Alzheimers Disease .