In a new study, researchers have revealed that older people whose depressive symptoms increase over a period of time are more prone to develop dementia at later stage of life. According to study authors, the risk of dementia increases after the first 3 years of increasing depressive symptoms. It is a crucial find as it will help scientists in identifying the disease at early stages when people start reporting of judgment failure and memory loss.
Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.
“Depressive symptoms that gradually increase over time appear to better predict dementia later in life than other trajectories of depressive symptoms such as high and remitting, in this study,” added M Arfan Ikram, Erasmus University Medical Centre, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
For the study, researchers observed 3,325 people aged above 55 years. All the participants had depressive symptoms and were at the starting stage of dementia. Study authors kept the volunteers under observation for over a decade and tracked depressive symptoms and risk of dementia for 11 years and 10 years respectively.
After analyzing the data, researchers discovered five trajectories of depressive symptoms — low depression symptoms (2,441 participants); initially high symptoms that decreased (369 participants); low starting scores that increased then remitted (170 participants); initially low symptoms that increased (255 participants); and constantly high symptoms (90 participants).
The study appeared in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.