Scientists have long known that in later years depression and dementia often go hand-in-hand. But does one raise the risk for the other? And if so, which is the chicken and which is the egg?
Now new research published in Neurology suggests that depression appears to independently boost the risk for mental decline. The finding follows the tracking of more than 1,700 initially healthy adults over the age of 50. For about 8 years all underwent annual depression and mental health screenings. Ultimately, more than 1/2 developed mild signs of dementia and nearly 1/5 developed full-blown dementia.
The team determined that people with higher levels of depression symptoms were at higher risk of mental decline. But they also found no relationship between the level of damage in the brain and the level of depression symptoms people had or in the change in depression symptoms over time.
So it remains unclear exactly how depression might boost dementia risk but the finding highlights the association between the two and argues against dementia causing depression.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news to help keep your family healthy.