Psychotic Symptoms Linked to Dementia

Dementia risk was higher for people that had hallucinations and delusions

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations or paranoia, can show up in many ways. They can be part of other disorders or not. New research says they may be linked to dementia.

A recent study found that elderly people with these symptoms were almost three times more likely to develop dementia.

Tracking these types of symptoms may be a way to help people at risk for dementia.

"Tell a therapist about any psychotic symptoms."

Psychotic symptoms are hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Hallucinations are when a person sees or hears something that is not real.

Delusions are thoughts or ideas that are not based in reality. Paranoia shows up as thoughts or ideas that people are out to get you.

All of these symptoms can show up in people with depression or other conditions, but they can also appear separate from any other disorder. They can come and go, or they may be lasting.

Sebastian Kohler, PhD, at the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, together with researchers in the UK looked at the how these types of symptoms related to the risk of dementia.

They interviewed 2,025 people in the UK who were over the age of 65 about their psychotic symptoms.

Two, six, and 10 years later, they followed-up with the people to test for dementia and any loss of mental function.

At the beginning of the study, 330 people had one or more psychotic symptoms

After six years, people with psychotic symptoms had lower scores on mental function tests and showed more loss of mental function.

After 10 years, people with psychotic symptoms were 2.76 times more likely to develop dementia. This higher risk was there even when other factors like depression and vascular problems were taken into account.

The researchers also found that the more psychotic symptoms a person had the higher the risk of dementia.

The authors concluded that people with psychotic symptoms are at higher risk for dementia. They recommend that people with these types of symptoms should be tracked closely.

Knowing about the increased risk may help people to get an earlier diagnosis and quicker treatment for dementia.

This study was published September 19 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Conflicts of interest and funding information was not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 25, 2012
Last Updated:
September 30, 2012