Depression may Increase Risk of Dementia

Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia linked to mid or late life depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Depression is fairly common in older adults, and older adults with dementia may also suffer from depression. There may be a link between depression and risk of developing dementia.  

New research shows that depression in mid or late life may increase the risk of developing dementia. 

Having both mid and late life depression increases the risk even more.

"Discuss any depression symptoms with your doctor."

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, led by Deborah Barnes, PhD, looked at the medical records of 13,535 patients of Kaiser Permanente.

Based on the records, they categorized patients as having either mid-life depression symptoms, late-life depression symptoms, both late- and mid-life depression symptoms, or no depression symptoms.

Then they looked at how many people developed Alzheimer’s Disease or vascular dementia.

They found that the risk of dementia increased by 20 percent for people who reported mid-life depression, 70 percent for people who reported late-life depression symptoms, and 80 percent for people who reported both mid- and late-life depression.

When Barnes and colleagues looked at the two types of dementia separately, they found that the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease was two times higher for patients with late-life depression, whereas vascular dementia was predicted by having both mid- and late-life depression.

The authors concluded that when depression appears for the first time in late life, it could be a risk factor or warning sign for Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study was limited in the way that depression was measured.

Patients in this study were asked to self report on their mood symptoms. They were not interviewed or diagnosed with depression.

The authors stated, “Future studies are needed to determine whether adequate treatment of depression in midlife or in late life may help to maintain cognitive function and delay dementia onset.”

The study was published in May in the Archives of General Psychiatry. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 21, 2012
Last Updated:
July 31, 2012