A recent study entitled “Depression, Depression Treatments, and Risk of Incident Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study of 354,313 Participants”, published in the Biological Psychiatry journal suggested that treating depression can considerably lower the likelihood of developing dementia, especially for people exhibiting growing depressive symptoms, underlining that prompt depression treatment can contribute to lessening depressive symptoms as well as lowering the risk of dementia.
Medical experts have long been interested in dementia, a disorder marked by a decrease in memory and cognitive ability, especially as the likelihood of developing dementia and depression rises with age. Previous studies have attempted to determine whether these two disorders are related, with a focus on whether depression causes dementia on its own or if it is only an early indicator of the disease.
Researchers embarked on this study to better understand the complex link between dementia and depression and identify if depression treatments have any effect on the risk of dementia and how depression treatments influence this risk.
To understand the link between depression symptoms and dementia, the study’s researchers examined over 354,313 participants aged between 50 and 70 years old, who were diagnosed with dementia, a subgroup of which were diagnosed with depression during or before dementia onset.
Researchers divided this subgroup into three groups depending on the severity of their depressive symptoms, namely increasing, decreasing, and chronically high or low, and subsequently compared the difference in dementia risk between individuals who received depression therapies and those who did not.
Researchers discovered that compared to those who received therapy, individuals with untreated depression had a 30% higher risk of developing dementia.
In addition, the examination of treatment types, both antidepressants and psychotherapy, displayed protective effects against the risk of dementia, particularly for those treatments on the rising course.
It is crucial to keep in mind that, despite the potentially insightful findings of this study, these results may not apply to older people or those in other age groups since the participants were limited between the ages of 50 and 70.
The study’s structure also made it difficult to determine if depression is a standalone risk factor or a prelude to dementia. Moreover, since the data came from a particular cohort, other unmeasured factors may affect the association between depression therapy and the risk of dementia.