Debbie Nicholson

New study suggests depression is linked with cognitive impairment

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam note that studies have suggested from three to 63 percent of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have symptoms of depression while other studies have indicated those with a history of depression have an increased risk for dementia. Researchers set out to evaluate the association of late-life depression in seniors with MCI and dementia.

This cohort study was conducted in Northern Manhattan, New York, New York that included 2160 community-dwelling Medicare recipients aged 65 and older.

Dr. Edo Richard, M.D., PhD, researcher, University of Amsterdam, Academic Medical Center , department of neurology, and colleagues wrote: "We found that depression was related to a higher risk of prevalent MCI and dementia, incident dementia, and progression from prevalent MCI to dementia, but not to incident MCI.”

Depression was assessed by the CES-D scale, which is a short scale designed to measure depression symptoms in the general populace. The items of the scale are symptoms associated with depression which have been used in previously validated longer scales.

The results revealed baseline depression was associated to prevalent MCI and dementia, while baseline depression was linked to an increased risk of incident dementia but not incident MCI.

The study also revealed those with MCI and current depression at baseline had a higher risk of ultimately developing dementia especially vascular dementia but not Alzheimer’s disease.

In their conclusion the researchers write; “The association of depression with prevalent MCI and with progression from MCI to dementia, but not with incident MCI, suggests that depression accompanies cognitive impairment but does not precede it.”

This study is published in the Archives of Neurology, Online First.

Several studies suggest between five and 20 percent of seniors have MCI of some form at any one time. Seniors who have MCI are at an increased risk for the development of dementia. Studies conducted in memory clinics showed 10 to 15 percent of people proceeded to develop dementia.

Studies reveal that MCI carries a significant increased risk of dementia that is around three to five times greater risk in comparison to those without MCI.

More information on mild cognitive impairment can be found online at the Alzheimer’s Association.


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