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Can depression speed up brain ageing?

May 29, 2018 11:40 IST

People with depression can experience a greater decline in cognitive state in older adulthood than those without it, says study.

Depression 

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Scientists have previously reported that people with depression or anxiety have an increased risk of dementia in later life.

A study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, provides comprehensive evidence for the effect of depression on decline in overall cognitive function.

Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK conducted a robust systematic review of 34 longitudinal studies, with the focus on the link between depression or anxiety and decline in cognitive function over time.

The study combined and reviewed evidence from over 71,000 participants, and included people who presented with symptoms of depression as well as those that were diagnosed as clinically depressed.

Researchers looked at the rate of decline of overall cognitive state -- encompassing memory loss, executive function (such as decision making) and information processing speed -- in older adults.

The study found that people with depression experienced a greater decline in cognitive state in older adulthood than those without depression.

As there is a long pre-clinical period of several decades before dementia may be diagnosed, the findings are important for early interventions as currently there is no cure for the disease.

'This study is of great importance -- our populations are ageing at a rapid rate and the number of people living with decreasing cognitive abilities and dementia is expected to grow substantially over the next thirty years,' said Darya Gaysina from the University of Sussex.

'Our findings should give the government even more reason to take mental health issues seriously and to ensure that health provisions are properly resourced.

'We need to protect the mental well-being of our older adults and to provide robust support services to those experiencing depression and anxiety in order to safeguard brain function in later life,' Gaysina said.

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