Depression & Dementia Linked
Suffering from depression at midlife and beyond may mean a higher risk of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. A research team led by Deborah Barnes, PhD of the University of California at San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center published their report on this possibility in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
According to HealthDay, the team evaluated long-term data from over 13,000 people in California and found that "people with late-life depression were twice as likely to get Alzheimer's disease and those with both midlife and late-life depression had a more than threefold increased risk of vascular dementia." The latter is caused by brain damage resulting from impaired blood flow to the brain.
Although the study showed only association and not cause and effect, the researchers contend that their work is important because over 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease at a cost of about $172 billion in 2010.
"Prevalence and costs of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are projected to rise dramatically during the next 40 years unless a prevention or a cure can be found. Therefore, it is critical to gain a greater understanding of the key risk factors and etiologic [causal] underpinnings of dementia," the researchers wrote.