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 June 14, 2003
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Depression Could Signal Alzheimer's
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BOSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows a link between depression and the development of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers say depression symptoms right before diagnosis and up to 25 years earlier are associated with a person developing Alzheimer's disease.

Depression is common in persons with Alzheimer's disease. It is thought that when depression symptoms occur right before a person is diagnosed, it may be an early sign of the disease. Research has not been clear on whether depression earlier in life is also a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study to determine the association between depression and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

For the study, investigators included nearly 2,000 people who have Alzheimer's disease and about 2,000 of their relatives who did not have the disease. All of the participants answered questions about their depression symptoms and other risk factors.

Researchers found a significant association between depression symptoms and Alzheimer's disease. The association was strongest in families where depression symptoms first occurred within one year before the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The association was evident but lower in families where depression symptoms first happened more than a year before diagnosis. Researchers say there was even a modest association in families where depression symptoms first occurred more than 25 years before the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Investigators suggest depression symptoms are a risk factor for later development of Alzheimer's disease. They say the reason is unclear, but emphasize that the more they understand about the risk factors for the disease, the better they can develop an accurate picture of who is at high risk for the development of Alzheimer's disease. They add that will help determine who should receive preventive and disease-modifying treatments as they become available.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, 2003;60:753-759

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