In practice, I find that many of my clients with traumatic brain injury experience new or worse onset of depression. The research suggests that this may be a precursor to dementia later in life.
A new study by neuropsychiatric researchers at Rush University Medical Center gives insight into the relationship between depression and dementia. The study is published in the July 30, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Studies have shown that people with symptoms of depression are more likely to develop dementia, but we haven’t known how the relationship works,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, neuropsychiatrist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and lead study investigator. “Is the depression a consequence of the dementia? Do both problems develop from the same underlying problems in the brain? Or does the relationship of depression with dementia have nothing to do with dementia-related pathology?”
The current study indicates that the association of depression with dementia is independent of dementia-related brain changes. “These findings are exciting because they suggest depression truly is a risk factor for dementia, and if we can target and prevent or treat depression and causes of stress we may have the potential to help people maintain their thinking and memory abilities into old age,” Wilson said.