Could Depression Increase My Risk of Dementia?

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Depression may be linked to dementia.

The brain is a powerful organ.

Through various neural networks, it supports the entire body by regulating breathing and heart rate and encoding memories and information.

When the normal function of your brain is affected, so is your mental and emotional well-being.

According to a recent MedPage Today article titled “Dementia Linked With Depression in Early and Middle Life,” it is unsurprising a connection may exist between dementia and depression.

Depression affects emotional and mental health.
Depression and dementia are both considered disorders of the mind.


Both of these are considered to originate in the brain.

According to a recent study published in JAMA Neurology, those with depression had a greater risk for dementia than those who did not have this diagnosis.

The study was led by Holly Elser, MD, PhD from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and used data from more than 1.4 million Danish citizens.

The researchers reviewed data from adult patients in the national registry in Denmark from 1977 to 2018.

The participants of the study included those with depression diagnoses and those without depression diagnoses who were matched with each other by sex and birth year.

246,499 study participants had a depression diagnosis, while 1,190,302 did not have a diagnosis of depression.

About 65 percent of the participants were women.

With a median baseline age of about 50, 67.7 percent of participants who had a depressive disorder received the categorization prior to age 60.

What were the results?

The study demonstrated a similar outcome to previous studies where dementia and late-life depressive symptoms were connected.

Of the participants with a depression diagnosis, 5.7 percent were eventually diagnosed with dementia during the follow-up period.

Only 3.2 percent of those who did not have a depressive disorder diagnosis eventually received a diagnosis of dementia.

The risk factor for vascular dementia was higher than for Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, the overall hazard of all-cause dementia for those with a depression diagnosis was 2.41 times those without this diagnosis.

By age range for when depression was diagnosed, the hazards for later receiving a dementia diagnosis was 3.08 for ages 18 to 44, 2.95 for ages 45 to 59, and 2.31 for ages 60 and older.

It could be the shared risk factors for dementia and depression may occur earlier in life when levels of key neurotransmitters result in changing health behaviors.

These changes in health behaviors may increase the risk of dementia.

Compared to women, men had a greater overall hazard for dementia development.

The prescription of antidepressants within six months of a depression diagnosis did not seem to impact dementia risk.

Reference: MedPage Today (July 24, 2023) “Dementia Linked With Depression in Early and Middle Life”

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