As Depression Worsens Dementia Risk Increases

depression and dementia

Worsening depression can also impact earlier dementia.

Depression Symptoms That Steadily Increase in Later Life Predict Higher Dementia Risk

Depression symptoms that steadily increase in older adults are more strongly linked to dementia than any other types of depression, and may indicate the early stages of the disease, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

Symptoms of depression are common in people with dementia, but previous studies have often looked at single episodes of depression, failing to take into account how depression develops over time.

The authors identified five different trajectories of depressive symptoms – low depression symptoms (2441 participants); initially high symptoms that decreased (369); low starting scores that increased then remitted (170); initially low symptoms that increased (255); and constantly high symptoms (90) (figure 1).

Of the 3325 participants, 434 developed dementia, including 348 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Only the group whose symptoms of depression increased over time was at an increased risk of dementia– 22% of people (55/255).

The authors say their findings support the hypothesis that increasing symptoms of depression in older age could potentially represent an early stage of dementia. Check with your mental health therapist.