Mid- and Late-Life Depression Tied to Dementia Risk

(HealthDay News) – Patients with depressive symptoms either in midlife or late in life are at increased risk of developing dementia.

Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues studied 13,535 long-term Kaiser Permanente members. Medical records were used to determine a clinical diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), or vascular dementia (VaD). Depressive symptoms were assessed in midlife (1964–1973) and late life (1994–2000).

The researchers found that, in 2003, the subjects had a mean age of 81.1 years, were 24.2% non-white, and were 57.9% female. Of the patients with depressive symptoms, symptoms were present in midlife only in 14.1% of subjects, in 9.2% of subjects in late life only, and in 4.2% of subjects in both. During six years of follow-up, 22.5% were diagnosed with dementia, 5.5% with AD, and 2.3% with VaD. There was increased risk of dementia for those with midlife depressive symptoms (hazard ratio [HR], 1.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–1.32), late-life symptoms (HR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.54–1.92), and both midlife and late-life symptoms (HR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.52–2.06). Patients with late-life depressive symptoms had a doubled risk of AD (HR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.67–2.55). There was a greater than three-fold increased risk of VaD in patients with midlife and late-life symptoms (HR, 3.51; 95% CI, 2.44–5.05).

“Depressive symptoms in midlife or in late life are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia,” the authors write.

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