10 July 2010

New Study shows Link between Depression and Dementia

Daily News Tribune

A new study using data from the Framingham Heart Study shows that having depression may double a person’s risk of developing dementia later in life.

The study was published in today’s issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and was authored by Jane Saczynski, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

The study, which looked at 949 people in the Framingham Heart Study over a 17-year-period, found that 22 percent of participants with symptoms of depression at the start developed dementia, compared with 17 percent of those without depression.

"While it’s unclear if depression causes dementia, there are a number of ways depression might impact the risk of dementia," said Saczynski. "Inflammation of brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed might contribute to dementia. Certain proteins found in the brain that increase with depression may also increase the risk of developing dementia."

Saczynski added lifestyle factors related to depression such as diet and exercise could affect the onset of dementia as well.

Saczynski said she hopes the study will highlight the connection between depression and dementia in Detroit - a link that past studies have not definitively shown.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

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