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Untreated Depression May Increase Later Dementia Risk

However, treatment lowers risk of dementia among older adults

FRIDAY, Oct. 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Symptomatic depression is associated with a 51 percent increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online Sept. 3 in Biological Psychiatry.

Liu Yang, M.D., from Fudan University in Shanghai, and colleagues examined associations between courses of depression, depression treatment, and the risk of incident dementia. Analysis included 354,313 participants (ages 50 to 70 years) in the U.K. Biobank (2006 to 2010) who were followed until 2020.

The researchers found that depression was associated with a 51 percent higher risk of dementia. The increasing, chronically high, and chronically low depression courses were associated with increased dementia risk, but no association was seen for decreasing depression course. Receiving depression treatments led to a reduction in risk of dementia versus not receiving treatment (hazard ratio, 0.7). Treatment for those with increasing and chronically low symptoms of depression was associated with a 42 and 29 percent lower risk of dementia, respectively, while the reduction effect of treatment for chronically high symptoms was insignificant.

“This indicates that timely treatment of depression is needed among those with late-life depression,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Providing depression treatment for those with late-life depression might not only remit affective symptoms but also postpone the onset of dementia.”

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