According to a recent study published in the April 8 issue of Neurology a strong link between depression history and Alzheimer’s exists. Specifically, individuals that had depressive episodes before the age of 60 had four times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. According to Monique Breteler, MD, Ph.D., of Erasmus University, the research did not indicate whether or not there were structural changes in the brain to account for this connection. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study’s findings:
Individuals with a history of depression requiring medical advice were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those without past depression, a study found.
Furthermore, those with depressive episodes before age 60 had nearly four times the risk for Alzheimer’s, Monique Breteler, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus University here, and colleagues reported in the April 8 issue of Neurology.
It is not clear whether the depression-Alzheimer’s link is mediated by structural brain changes, the researchers wrote. However, in this study there was no difference in the size of the hippocampal or amygdalar structures in people with a depression history and those without depression.
The study included 486 individuals, ages 60 to 90, without dementia at baseline (1995 to 1996), who reported their history of depressive episodes. Individuals came from the prospective Rotterdam Scan Study, which investigated chronic diseases among elderly participants.
Pastoral Action Point:
Studies have shown that those who isolate themselves or are simply isolated are at greater risk for depression than those that do not. Church is a great place for people to come and find life giving interaction and involvement with others. Considering studies like this one, which link depression with actual physical ills, connecting with community may provide more than just emotional support.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”