While many believe that feeling sad and apathetic is not harmful for your physiological health and only affect you psychologically. However, recent researches show that this is incorrect and that depression is dangerous.
Depressive episodes happen from time to time with everyone. Depression may take various forms including persistent chronic forms. Latter are much more dangerous for your health than you might have thought. A multitude of research studies indicate that depression is capable of developing dementia in patients especially in the long run. Interestingly, it does not matter the time period of the depression.
What scientists say
There are several important studies that deserve our attention and we will try to pinpoint their results in a short resume. There were 5 crucial works conducted by talented scientists in Europe and Americas.
- One study revolved around comparison analysis of various clinical researches that were conducted by scientists all over the world. 23 studies were carefully examined and compared to each other. Interestingly, scientists found a correlation between dementia and depression. People with reported depression more often developed Alzheimer’s, dementia, and some other mental and neurological issues.
- About a decade ago, a group of scientists conducted another research with over 17 hundred participants from USA. All participants were closely monitored over a period of 8 years. Their mental health and depression symptoms were well documented and updated regularly. One of the findings of the study is that people with late-life depression were much more likely candidates to develop various forms of dementia.
- Research #3 was conducted in the beginning of 2000s. The method was again a comparison analysis of 16 different studies that were conducted in the second half of the previous century. In this research, scientist did not focus on only late-life depression but on all cases of depression. The results were saddening as chances to develop dementia increased in all patients who had depressive episodes in their lives regardless of the age they had them.
- A clinical study with diabetes patients who also had depression was even more grim. The results indicated that people with diabetes type 2 not only had higher chances to have problems on the neurological front but also suffered from the increase of the likelihood of developing dementia due to depression combined with diabetes. The risk was far greater for people with both diabetes and depression.
- The last study that needs to be highlighted here focused on more precise methods. Researchers carefully measured various parameters of patients including overall brain volume, hippocampus volume, and white matter in people with dementia. Depression and antidepressants both had negative effects on the brain volume and led to a significant decrease in the size of hippocampus.
How depression and dementia are connected
Despite the hardest of efforts from the best scientists, we are still unsure how exactly depression causes dementia. The very existence of the correlation is undeniable, but the mechanism of sad connection is unclear and requires extensive research. Depression may change the brain and affects it one physiological level. As mentioned above, the brain quite literally becomes smaller in people with depression. The age of acquiring the depression is also irrelevant in the long run.
Another important takeaway is that depression can be one of the earliest manifestations that a person has dementia in one form or another. Depression is frequently a response of the brain to inability to appropriately process information and store it. Many specialists claim that depression can very well be treated as a symptom of early dementia.