The link between depression and dementia has been noted by researchers and clinicians for several years now. After all, it seems obvious that one would suffer from feelings of depression as one gets older and experiences the earliest stages of cognitive decline. But a growing body of evidence is building to suggest we may have got the causal direction wrong when considering the associations between depression and dementia.
A new study led by Harvard Medical School researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital has found levels of amyloid beta plaques in the brain, the primary pathological characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, can be directly correlated with both increasing symptoms of depression, and worsening cognition. The hypothesis is that depression and dementia can be symptoms of Alzheimer’s, with mild depression being possibly one of the first clinical signs of the neurodegenerative disease.