Depression increases risk of Alzheimer's disease

April 7, 2008

People who have had depression are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who have never had depression, according to a study published in the April 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 486 people age 60 to 90 who had no dementia. Of those, 134 people had experienced at least one episode of depression that prompted them to seek medical advice.

The participants were followed for an average of six years. During that time 33 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. People who had experienced depression were 2.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who had never had depression. The risk was even higher for those whose depression occurred before the age of 60; they were nearly four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with no depression.

“We don’t know yet whether depression contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or whether another unknown factor causes both depression and dementia,” said study author Monique M.B. Breteler, MD, PhD, with the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “We’ll need to do more studies to understand the relationship between depression and dementia.”

One theory was that depression leads to loss of cells in two areas of the brain, the hippocampus and the amygdala, which then contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. But this study found no difference in the size of these two brain areas between people with depression and people who had never had depression.

The study also assessed whether the participants had symptoms of depression at the start of the study. But those with depressive symptoms at the start of the study were not more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with no depression at the start of the study.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Brain SPECT imaging predicts outcomes in depressed patients

Related Stories

Brain SPECT imaging predicts outcomes in depressed patients

March 20, 2018
New research from the Amen Clinics shows that brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging, a study that measures blood flow and activity patterns, identifies who is likely to get better from depression ...

5 ways to lower your chances of getting Alzheimer's

March 8, 2018
Retain a sharp, healthy brain and reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease by following five simple rules. Some of the tips are scientifically proven, while others show promise but require further investigation.

Brain injury may boost risk of Alzheimer's earlier in life

March 1, 2018
Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease earlier in life, according to a study from UT Southwestern's Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

Over years, depression changes the brain, new study shows

February 27, 2018
Is clinical depression always the same illness, or does it change over time?

Birth of new neurons in the human hippocampus ends in childhood

March 7, 2018
One of the liveliest debates in neuroscience over the past half century surrounds whether the human brain renews itself by producing new neurons throughout life, and whether it may be possible to rejuvenate the brain by boosting ...

Where does the controversial finding that adult human brains don't grow new neurons leave ongoing research?

March 15, 2018
Scientists have known for about two decades that some neurons – the fundamental cells in the brain that transmit signals – are generated throughout life. But now a controversial new study from the University of California, ...

Recommended for you

Scientists identify potential drug target in blood-feeding hookworms

March 22, 2018
In hookworms that infect and feed on the blood of mice, scientists have discovered a key step in blood digestion that can be targeted to disrupt the parasite's development and survival. These findings, published in PLOS Pathogens ...

Global burden of low back pain—a consequence of negligence and misinformation

March 21, 2018
A series of groundbreaking papers from Australian and international researchers in The Lancet, published today (22/3) warns that low back pain is a major health burden globally - across developed and developing nations - ...

Microscopic 'shuttles' transport enzyme from cells to trigger onset of kidney disease

March 21, 2018
A new study involving the University of Sheffield has identified a key culprit in the onset of kidney disease in a major marker for kidney disease development.

Metabolite therapy proves effective in treating C. difficile in mice

March 20, 2018
A team of UCLA researchers found that a metabolite therapy was effective in mice for treating a serious infection of the colon known as Clostridium difficile infection, or C. difficile.

Study of COPD patients has created a 'looking glass' into genome of pathogen

March 19, 2018
Decades of work on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the University at Buffalo and the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System have yielded extraordinary information about the pathogen that does ...

Sick air travelers mostly likely to infect next row: study

March 19, 2018
People who fly on airplanes while contagious can indeed get other people sick, but the risk is mainly to those seated next to them or in the adjacent row, US researchers said Monday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.