Lack of sleep and untreated depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease

September 2, 2016 by Jean Milán, Florida International University
Lack of sleep and untreated depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

New research suggests that lack of sleep and untreated depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, even for those who do not have a genetic predisposition for the disease.

Depression and sleeplessness have long been considered symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. This study indicates that whether in combination with genetic risk factors or on their own, untreated depression and lack of sleep may lead to the onset of Alzheimer's disease dementia later in life.

"Previous research has attempted to explore the relationship between depression, sleep disturbance and Alzheimer's disease. Our research is significant in that it is the first to find an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease due to insomnia and depression independently, as well as in combination with genetic risk factors," said Shanna L. Burke, assistant professor of at the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

Alzheimer's disease currently affects more than 39.9 million people worldwide. In the United States, it is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, affecting 1 in 10 people over the age of 65.

Although treating the for Alzheimer's disease isn't possible yet, these findings suggest that alleviating depression and sleep disturbance may decrease the chances of a person developing the disease.

Burke served as the primary investigator for the study. She and the other members of the research team—Peter Maramaldi, Tamara Cadet and Walter Kukull—present their findings in Associations between depression, sleep disturbance, and apolipoprotein E in the development of Alzheimer's disease: dementia, which was recently highlighted as "Paper of the Month" in the journal International Psychogeriatrics. Commentary and associated findings on the study were provided by Dr. David Steffens, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut.

"Future studies are needed to better understand the role of sleep in development of Alzheimer's Disease, either as an independent risk factor or as a key depressive symptom that might further unlock the link between depression and Alzheimer's," said Steffens.

Burke specializes in investigating genetic and psychosocial associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Her research analyzes clinical, neuropathological and genetic data collected by sites across the United States. She teaches courses on research methodology, assessment and intervention, and gerontology at FIU.

Explore further: New genetic risk marker for late-life depression

More information: Shanna L. Burke et al. Associations between depression, sleep disturbance, and apolipoprotein E in the development of Alzheimer's disease: dementia, International Psychogeriatrics (2016). DOI: 10.1017/S1041610216000405

Related Stories

New genetic risk marker for late-life depression

November 3, 2015
One of the most powerful predictors in neuropsychiatry is the epsilon 4 (ε4) allele of the apolipoprotein gene (APOE).

Western diet increases Alzheimer's risk

August 26, 2016
Globally, about 42 million people now have dementia, with Alzheimer's disease as the most common type of dementia. Rates of Alzheimer's disease are rising worldwide. The most important risk factors seem to be linked to diet, ...

Antipsychotic medications linked to increased risk of pneumonia in persons with Alzheimer's disease

August 30, 2016
Antipsychotic medications are associated with an increased risk of pneumonia in persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to new research from the University of Eastern Finland. The risk of pneumonia was the highest ...

Researchers clarify relationships between diabetes and two cognitive disorders

August 31, 2016
Researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and UK College of Medicine recently published a landmark study examining the relationships between diabetes and two types of cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer's ...

Antidepressant use begins years before Alzheimer's diagnosis

March 4, 2016
Antidepressants are frequently prescribed to persons with Alzheimer's disease before the diagnosis, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. Among persons with Alzheimer's disease, the initiation ...

Recommended for you

Data detectives shift suspicions in Alzheimer's to inside villain

February 20, 2018
The mass pursuit of a conspicuous suspect in Alzheimer's disease may have encumbered research success for decades. Now, a new data analysis that has untangled evidence amassed in years of Alzheimer's studies encourages researchers ...

Not being aware of memory problems predicts onset of Alzheimer's disease

February 15, 2018
Doctors who work with individuals at risk of developing dementia have long suspected that patients who do not realize they experience memory problems are at greater risk of seeing their condition worsen in a short time frame, ...

Researchers successfully reverse Alzheimer's disease in mouse model

February 14, 2018
A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's ...

Poor fitness linked to weaker brain fiber, higher dementia risk

February 14, 2018
Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer's disease.

Compound prevents neurological damage, shows cognitive benefits in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

February 7, 2018
The supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR) – a form of vitamin B3 – prevented neurological damage and improved cognitive and physical function in a new mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. The results of the study, conducted ...

Positive attitudes about aging reduce risk of dementia in older adults

February 7, 2018
Research has shown that older persons who have acquired positive beliefs about old age from their surrounding culture are less likely to develop dementia. This protective effect was found for all participants, as well as ...

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.