Study Shows Heightened Risk of Dementia For Those With Both Diabetes, Depression

Source: Pittsburg Post-Gazette

It already has been established that people with Type 2 diabetes and those with depression face a greater risk of dementia.

But now a study published online today in JAMA Psychiatry has found that people with Type 2 diabetes and depression face an even greater risk of dementia than previously thought.

“Depression and diabetes mellitus were independently associated with a greater risk for dementia, and the combined association of both exposures with the risk for all-cause dementia was stronger than the additive association,” the study concludes.

The study involved 2.5 million Danes who were 50 years old and older, including 477,133 with depression and 223,174 with Type 2 diabetes. All were followed over the course of years.

In his commentary published with the study, UPMC geriatric psychiatrist Charles F. Reynolds III said the results show the need for lifestyle interventions, including coaching in healthy dietary practices and pharmacological targets to improve human health during aging.

In all, he said, we need "convergent scientific approaches to meet the challenge of promoting healthy brain aging and cognitive fitness into the last years of life."

People with Type 2 diabetes have a 20-percent elevated risk and those with depression have an 83-percent higher risk of dementia as compared with people with neither condition. But the risk of dementia is even higher than the additive risks for people with both conditions.

Six percent of all dementia cases in Denmark among people 65 and older involved the combination of diabetes and depression, while 25 percent of all dementia cases of people younger than 65 involved both conditions, the study found.

The study notes that diabetes and depression “are very common in Western populations, with 8 to 14 percent of people with diabetes and 16 percent of men having depression in their lives.” Among those with Type 2 diabetes, upward to 20 percent also have depression, which indicates “poorer adherence to diet, smoking cessation, exercise and medication regimens“ to control the diabetes.

“Therefore, patients with co-morbid depression and diabetes mellitus have an increased risk for microvascular and macrovascular complications and mortality,” the study says.

Dementia is a combination of disorders causing “significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships,” the National Institutes of Health states. People with dementia also “lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, and they may experience personality changes and behavioral problems, such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations.”

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