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Study Ties Diabetic Patients with Depression to Dementia

Update Date: Aug 15, 2013 01:54 PM EDT
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Researchers have found that diseases and health conditions are often associated with one another. Certain chronic illnesses, when left unchecked can lead to a lot of other health complications. In a new study, researchers tied diabetic patients who have depression to dementia. They found that if people with type 2 diabetes are suffering from depression, their rate of mental decline is faster than diabetic people with depression.

"Both depression and diabetes have been identified as risk factors for dementia in general and Alzheimer's disease in particular," an expert who was not involved with the study, Dr. Marc Gordon said reported by Medical Xpress.

In this study, the research team headed by Dr. Mark Sullivan of the University of Washington, Seattle, monitored the outcomes for around 3,000 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The participants were also considered to be high risk for heart disease. The researchers measured the participants' thinking and memory capabilities as well as their levels of depression at the very beginning of the study. The patients were then tracked for 40 months.

The researchers found that diabetic patients with depression exhibited faster mental declines over the time period of the study. The researchers noted that the decline was not affected by other variables such as heart disease, age, blood pressure medications, cholesterol or insulin levels. Despite finding an association between diabetic people with depression and dementia risk, the researchers stated that their study did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. However, they believe that their findings can help with future treatment plans and preventative measures for diabetics with depression.

"It is possible that depression is an early manifestation of an underlying disease process that may eventually result in cognitive decline," Gordon added. Gordon is the chief of neurology at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY. "It remains to be seen whether this effect is any different from what would be seen in a nondiabetic population, or whether antidepressant treatment would alter the risk of cognitive decline."

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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