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Mild Cognitive Impairment and Depression Linked to Dementia

Often thought to be a collective problem, a new study shows that depression and mild cognitive impairment are individual symptoms that can lead to the development of dementia. A study released in May 2011 from Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, identified a correlation between depression and the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. A new team has taken a further look into exactly how the three ailments intertwine. Researchers recently analyzed information on nearly 2,200 elderly New York Medicare recipients. They began this new study by evaluating all of the participants and then continually following up with them to identify changes. Throughout the study, researchers found that depression is linked to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. In an interesting twist however, researchers state that depression is more likely a symptom of MCI and dementia, rather than a direct cause. Many other reports have showed that depression leads to MCI, but the new study indicates the relationship is likely the other way around. However, in its direct relationship to dementia, depression appears to provide acceleration of the disease’s development. Patients with depression and already developed mild cognitive impairment show a greater risk for dementia development. In fact, the study indicates that patients with MCI and depression have nearly double the risk of becoming a dementia patient, as opposed to patients with just depression or just mild cognitive impairment. Overall, depression showed the most impact on the development of dementia, along with the accompaniment of MCI. Rather than preceding age-related memory loss (MCI) depression in the elderly, depression is more symptomatic. However, its appearance can be fore-warning of more cognitive problems to come. In the past, memory loss and depression were lumped together as a normal sign of aging. This new study shows that each prognosis is actually an individual step into age-related memory loss that can eventually work together to exacerbate the problem. Many healthcare professionals agree that many times depression and MCI would be lumped together instead of looked at as separate symptoms, but it would make sense why someone with MCI would develop depression, as they begin to realize they can no longer do certain things because they don’t remember how. More study will have to be done, but in the future researchers hope that can change the course of how elderly patients are treated for their cognitive declines and any depression that may appear. Looking at the individualized problems could also help lower the risk for dementia development.   Sources: Medical News Today - WebMD - -
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