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Vessel disease induced depression and mental decline

Symptoms of depression increase older people's likelihood of becoming cognitively impaired and this risk is especially high for men.

Vessel disease induced depression and mental decline

Symptoms of depression increase older people's likelihood of becoming cognitively impaired and this risk is especially high for men.

There has been some research suggesting a link between depression and worse cognitive function in older people, and a couple of studies have found the link in men, but not women. Therefore researchers from Singapore studied 1,487 Chinese men and women, who were 55 years of age or older, to investigate whether the effects of depressive symptoms on the risk of cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in cognitively well older people differed between men and women and whether sex differences in cerebrovascular factors might explain this. The participants were assessed for depressive symptoms and data regarding age, education, smoking, alcohol drinking and vascular risk factors was collected.

It was found that 11 percent of the subjects were depressed. Within 2 years, 44 people, or 3 percent, had developed cognitive impairment. All of these individuals had high blood pressure or risk factors for vascular disease such as diabetes or stroke. While 3 percent of people who weren't depressed developed cognitive impairment, 6 percent of those who were depressed did.

After the researchers accounted for factors that could influence both depression and cognitive function, including gender, education, baseline mental function, and blood vessel disease risk factors, they found that depressed people were three-fold more likely to have lost cognitive function than people who weren't depressed.The risk was only statistically significant among men, who were 5 times more likely to become cognitively impaired if they were depressed.

The findings suggest that underlying blood vessel disease may account for some of the increased cognitive impairment risk seen in depressed men. Depressive symptomology in women may reflect a greater diversity of underlying psychosocial pathology or other physical illness, which might mask the cognitive effect of vascular depression even if it were present.

The researchers concluded that depression might result from the effects of blood vessel disease on the brain, and represents the early stages of declining mental function.
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