Untreated depression may increase the risk of developing dementia in the future

Untreated depression may increase the risk of developing dementia in the future

  • Researchers investigated the relationship between late-life depression and dementia, and estimated the effect of depression treatments on dementia risk for patients with different courses of depressive symptoms.
  • Study participants with chronically increased and decreased depressive symptoms were more likely to develop dementia compared to non-depressive participants or those with diminished depressive symptoms.
  • Depression treatments effectively reduce the risk of developing dementia, especially in patients with increased depressive symptoms.
  • The findings suggest that timely delivery of depression treatment to those with depression in late life may delay the onset of dementia.

In 2022, World Health Organization Dementia ranks as the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and it is estimated that around 55 million people worldwide live with the condition. Dementia can affect people physically, psychologically, socially, and economically, and this impact can extend to caregivers, families, and society at large.

Since there is currently no treatment available to treat dementia, that Prevent is a priority. many of studies showed that depression increases the risk of developing dementia. Therefore, timely treatment of depression may help prevent it.

Depression is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both. Although there are studies on whether drug treatment for depression reduces the risk of dementia in later life, results have been mixed, with some studies reporting positive results, while others have negative or neutral results.

a 2017 study found that administration of SSRIs for more than 4 years reduced the risk of dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment.

On the contrary, another 2017 study He found that use of antidepressants made no difference to dementia risk, while a 2016 study concluded that use of antidepressants in the elderly was associated with an increased risk of dementia.

None of these previously published studies take into account the fact that different individuals experience differently Depression pathways (or patterns of depression symptoms over time).

Now, researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have published a study in Biological Psychiatrywhich examines the relationships between different depression pathways, different depression treatments, and the likelihood of developing dementia.

“This is very interesting. As we said earlier (all identified in the 2020 Lancet Commission on Dementia), some previous studies have distinguished between treated and untreated depression. […],” He said Dr. Jill Livingstonprofessor of geriatric psychiatry at University College London, and chair of the Lancet Committee on Dementia, Prevention, Intervention and Care, who was not involved in the study.

This study here follows depressed people over the age of 50 for 10 to 14 years [and like a previous study] found a nearly identical increased risk of developing dementia (51%). This was especially true for those whose depressive symptoms developed or worsened over time, [while] Those who were treated and were not severely depressed had lower levels of depression[n] Danger,” she said Medical news today.

“This is an important finding and suggests that people with depression in middle and late life should be aggressively treated to improve symptoms[s]This helps improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of dementia.”
Dr. Jill Livingston

Between 2006 and 2010, the study included 354,313 UK Biobank individuals aged 50 to 70 years. And 189,440 participants (53.5%) were women.

A total of 46,280 participants were diagnosed with late-life depression at baseline, of whom 725 developed dementia during the follow-up period. The researchers followed the participants into 2020.

To study the effect of different depression pathways on the rate of dementia, the researchers identified 4 subgroups. those with:

  • Depressive symptoms increase over time (n = 3462)
  • Reducing depressive symptoms over time (n = 3578)
  • Chronic severe depressive symptoms (n=2,281)
  • Chronic low depressive symptoms (n = 3159)

To examine whether the risk of developing dementia can be reduced by treating depression, the researchers also categorized the 46,820 participants with depression into the following treatment groups:

  • Untreated (n = 24152)
  • Pharmacotherapy (n = 14695)
  • Psychotherapy (n = 2151)
  • mix (n = 5281)

As expected, the researchers found that study participants with depression had a 51% greater risk of developing dementia than those without depression.

Within the subgroup of depressed participants, the risk of developing dementia varies depending on their course of depression. Individuals with ‘increasing’, ‘chronic high’ and ‘chronic low’ depressive symptoms were more likely to develop dementia, while individuals with lower levels of depression had the same risk of developing dementia as non-depressed individuals.

The researchers found that depression treatments were associated with a lower incidence of dementia, with an approximately 26% lower risk of dementia among patients who received treatment.

Moreover, the researchers note that although the “increasing” course of depression increases the risk of developing dementia more quickly, taking depression treatments can counteract the increased risk. On the other hand, depression treatment had no effect on dementia risk in individuals with a chronically high level of depression.

This finding highlights the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of depression, not only in order to control depression, but also to reduce a patient’s risk of developing dementia.

Dr. Wei ChengThe results of this study “shed some light on previous work as well. Differences in efficacy across depression cycles may explain the discrepancy between previous studies,” says study co-author and young principal investigator at the Science and Technology Institute for Brain-Inspired Intelligence (ISTBI) at Fudan University.

Commenting on the study’s limitations, the researchers note that studies to date “have demonstrated inconclusive that depression is an initiating stage (symptomatic) or independent risk factor for dementia..” Thus, they say the link between depression and dementia “should remain.” It is interpreted with caution.

Dr. Livingstone repeated this in her comments to MNT: “Depression may be a risk of developing dementia, but later in life, dementia may cause depression.”

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