Dementia: Health Conditions Linked


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There’s a lot of problems that can arise alongside depression, including anxiety and low self-esteem. But there are also some conditions that depression can cause later in life. Ivanhoe has details on a new study that is linking depression with dementia.

Low self-esteem, loss of interest, anxiety, poor outlook on life … depression can wreak havoc on your emotional health. But a new study from UC San Francisco has found depression can also be damaging to your brain health. The researchers discovered the part of the brain that is essential for your ability to organize and store your memories can be damaged through excess stress hormones and an increase in depression. This finding suggests that depression and mental health declines in young adults can increase their chances of developing a neurodegenerative disease.

“If we identified people at high risk for developing dementia in the future, that creates a window of opportunity to intervene,” explained Richard Lipton, MD, Professor and Vice Chair Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

So, what are ways young people can prevent developing dementia later in life? A new study in the UK has shown that children who eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day had the highest scoring mental health values and well-being. Another thing that can help …

“Pushing yourself to exercise regularly probably helps some for mood improvement,” shared Charles Conway, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis.

Exercise keeps your serotonin levels up, as well as cutting down on excessive drinking and smoking. Reaching out for help with your mental health can not only improve your life but keep your risk of dementia at bay.

More recently, psychiatric aspects of neurodegenerative diseases are being recognized as a significant factor in the onset of dementia due to the prominent link between mental health issues and mental decline. Loneliness and social isolation are also contributing factors to this disease.

Contributors to this news report include: Danielle Gober, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.


BACKGROUND: Depression is a medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems while decreasing your ability to function at work and at home. Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults in any given year and one in six people will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20’s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high degree of passing it on when first-degree relatives (parents/children/siblings) have depression.


EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON THE BRAIN: There is still some debate about which areas of the brain are affected by depression and how much. There’s growing evidence that several parts of the brain shrink in people with depression where these areas lose gray matter volume (GMV), or tissue with a lot of brain cells. GMV loss seems to be higher in people who have regular or ongoing depression with serious symptoms. Experts aren’t sure which comes first, depression or inflammation. But people who have a major depressive episode have higher levels of translocator proteins which are chemicals linked to brain inflammation. Studies show these proteins are even higher in people who’ve had untreated major depressive disorder for 10 years or more. But researchers also found less GMV in people who were diagnosed with lifelong major depressive disorder but hadn’t had depression in years.


BREAKTHROUGH STUDY FOR PERSONALIZED TREATMENT: A study by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers led by Dr. Alexander Niculescu, professor of psychiatry, builds on previous research into blood biomarkers that track suicidality as well as pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Alzheimer’s disease. The team developed a blood test composed of RNA biomarkers that distinguish how severe a patient’s depression is, their risk of severe depression in the future, and their risk of future bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness. The test also informs tailored medication choices for patients. “Blood biomarkers offer real-world clinical practice advantages. The brain cannot be easily biopsied in live individuals, so we’ve worked hard over the years to identify blood biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders,” Niculescu said. The researchers recorded what changed in terms of the biomarkers in the study participant’s blood over the period between the highs and lows. They then used large databases developed from all previous studies in the field to cross-validate and prioritize their findings.


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Judy Martin Finch, Public Relations                                       Elaine Iandoli, Public Relations                                                      

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