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Mid- and Late-Life Depression Tied to Dementia Risk

Last Updated: May 10, 2012.

Patients with depressive symptoms either in midlife or late in life are at increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with depressive symptoms either in midlife or late in life are at increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Deborah E. Barnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., 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 to 1973) and late life (1994 to 2000).

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