CNN (July 5, 2010): Depression May Raise Risk of Dementia, Alzheimer's, Study Finds

Publication Date: 
Mon, 07/05/2010

The link between depression and dementia has always been unclear, but a new study supports the theory that depression increases dementia risk.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, are based on nearly 1,000 people who were studied for up to 17 years. Researchers evaluated them for depression and dementia using standard clinical tests. Those who were depressed when first examined almost doubled their risk for dementia and also increased their risk for Alzheimer's disease.

"This is probably the best in terms of long-term follow study that I've seen in terms of associating dementia with depression," said Dr. Richard Isaacson, associate professor of neurology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, who was not involved with the research.

Previous research has also examined depression and dementia, but results have been inconsistent, perhaps because participants were not followed for long enough, said lead author Jane Saczynski, associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Participants came from the Framingham Heart Study, a large study that has been going on since 1948 to look at heart disease risk factors in Framingham, Massachusetts. Because of the data already being collected about these people, the study allowed Saczynski's group to control for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, smoking, alcohol use and other factors that could have influenced dementia. The average age of people that Saczynski's study looked at was 79 years old.