Depression increases risk of Dementia

Is Depression Known to Increase risk of Dementia Multifold?

Lot of things has been researched and studied in the field of mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease and other form of dementia. One of the very interesting areas of research is depression and its connection with dementia.  Depression is known to create impact in people with dementia in following two different ways.

  1. Individuals who have significant depression are at higher risk of developing dementia.
  2. People who are having dementia have depression too which if left untreated worsen confusion and forgetfulness further disrupting the quality of life.

Contribution from Studies on Connection of Depression and Dementia

Dementia and depression are mental health problems that are commonly encountered in neuropsychiatric practice in the elderly. Approximately, half of the patients with late-onset depression have cognitive impairment. The prevalence of depression in dementias has been reported to be between 9 and 68%. Depression has been both proposed to be a risk factor for dementia as well as a prodrome of dementia. The relationship between the two disorders is far from conclusive.

The relationship between depression and dementia is far from clear with the existing body of evidence pointing to a complex interaction. There is a need to sort out several methodological limitations that hinder us from elucidating the relationship. Some of these may include use of uniformed criteria for cognitive impairment, operationalizing, and validating criteria for depression in dementia, using better instruments to measure depression and cognitive impairment when they coexist. This area has enormous public health implications considering our growing elder population, and there is a need to understand the mechanisms involved in the association of these two disorders.

Relationship between these two major illnesses

There are several ways in which depression could be related to dementia and cognitive impairment. First, both being common conditions, they could occur together in the same individual by chance alone. Second, in some individuals, cognitive impairment and depressive symptoms could both be manifestations of the same brain disease. Third, individuals experiencing cognitive deficits could become depressed as a reaction to recognizing their losses and poor prognosis. Fourth, depression might unmask a dementia which had until then remained undetected. Fifth, depression itself could be an independent risk factor for the future development of dementia; this seems a more plausible explanation when the individual has had early-onset recurrent or chronic depression than if the depression occurs for the first time shortly before the dementia is manifested. Finally, these are not mutually exclusive possibilities.