Deteriorating depressive symptoms may increase dementia risk: Study

Deteriorating depressive symptoms may increase dementia risk: Study

Depression is like a fog that engulfs the mind. Those affected by it feel as if they are plunging into an ocean of grief and unending hopelessness. The wounds etched on the mind do not bleed, but are deep enough to take one’s life. The cage of depression confines an estimated 9 percent adult Americans in a year, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC said that approximately 3 percent adult Americans are diagnosed with major depressive disorder at any given point of time.

A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, published online in the JAMA Psychiatry in March 2016, suggested that worsening of depressive symptoms is linked with increasing risks of dementia.

In the study, titled “Trajectories of depressive symptoms in older adults and risk of Dementia,” the researchers examined 2,488 black and white adults from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. The participants were registered between May 1997 and June 1998 and their follow-up was done through 2001-2002. Of all the participants, 53.1 percent were women with an average age of 74 years.

Even minimal symptoms enough to cause dementia

The researchers found that 62 percent of the participants exhibited signs of depression of a very low degree consistently, 32.2 percent displayed moderate and rising signs of depression, while the rest 5.8 percent showed very high and increasing symptoms of depression. During the follow-up period which extended up to six years, it was found that 12.3 percent of the respondents manifesting minimal symptoms developed dementia, while 21.4 percent of the participants with high and rising symptoms of depression developed cognitive disorder. Moreover, those displaying mid-level signals also showed increased rates of dementia, though the effect was counterbalanced by comparing the cognitive function level across the groups.

Stressing on the findings, co-author of the study and an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Allison Kaup said, “While we cannot rule out that depression may foreshadow dementia as an early symptom, or may be an emotional response to cognitive decline, we found an almost two-fold increase among those with high-and-increasing symptoms. This suggests that a particular pattern of depressive symptoms may be an independent risk factor.”

He also said that that the cognitive health of older adults could be improved with the treatments, such as psychotherapy or other behavioral interventions, or medications, that help reduce depressive symptoms. However, further studies are needed to implement treatment strategies that can help alleviate cognitive decline in depression patients.

The observations indicated the need to screen adults for possible risks of depression, and consequently, dementia and cognitive disabilities.

Available treatment options

The effects of depression make it difficult for a person to lead a happy life as much as the impact of dementia disables one to remember the pleasant past. While the onset of the former raises the risk of developing the latter, it is imperative to treat depression at an early stage to prevent cognitive decline. Though depression can strike anyone irrespective of social class or gender, it is a treatable condition. But, one must not wait for symptoms to grow to a level wherein the patient loses all hope to recover.

If you or your loved one is fighting depression, don’t hesitate to seek medical treatment from one of the reputed depression rehab centers in the U.S. Depression can affect anyone, young and old alike. The Depression Treatment Helpline is there to help you in identifying the symptoms of depression and finding depression rehabilitation centers according to the need. All you have to do is chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 to speak to a depression treatment specialist.