Depression in Alzheimer's patients associated with declining ability to handle daily activities

March 19, 2013, Columbia University Medical Center

More symptoms of depression and lower cognitive status are independently associated with a more rapid decline in the ability to handle tasks of everyday living, according to a study by Columbia University Medical Center researchers in this month's Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Although these findings are observational, they could suggest that providing for people with Alzheimer's disease might slow the loss of independence, said senior author Yaakov Stern, PhD, professor of neuropsychology (in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center) at CUMC.

"This is the first paper to show that declines in function and cognition are inter-related over time, and that the presence of depression is associated with more rapid ," said Dr. Stern, who also directs the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of the Department of Neurology at CUMC.

Because almost half of Alzheimer's patients have depression, the researchers, who were studying the long-term association between cognitive and functional abilities in the disease, also looked at the role of depressive symptoms in disease progression. They reviewed data that tracked changes in cognition, depression, and daily functioning in 517 patients with probable Alzheimer's at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière in Paris, France. Patients were assessed prospectively every six months for more than 5.5 years.

"Making a prognosis for Alzheimer's disease is notoriously difficult because patients progress at such different rates," said first author Laura B. Zahodne, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the cognitive neuroscience division in the Department of Neurology and the Taub Institute at CUMC. "These results show that not only should we measure patients' memory and thinking abilities, we should also assess their depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms that may affect their prognosis."

Explore further: Persistent depression linked with cognitive decline in older patients with coronary artery disease

More information: The title of the paper is "Coupled Cognitive and Functional Change in Alzheimer's Disease and the Influence of Depressive Symptoms" (JAD Volume 34/Issue 4 (March 2013)).

Related Stories

Persistent depression linked with cognitive decline in older patients with coronary artery disease

March 5, 2012
Persistent depression symptoms may be associated with significantly greater declines in cognitive performance in older patients with coronary artery disease who underwent cardiac catheterization, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss very limited

January 17, 2018
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A joint ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's

January 5, 2018
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease - and hence that blocking its spread ...

Molecular mechanism behind HIV-associated dementia revealed

January 5, 2018
For the first time, scientists have identified and inhibited a molecular process that can lead to neurodegeneration in patients with HIV, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Communications.

0 comments

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.