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Risk for Dementia Rises When Diabetes, Depression Meet: Study

December 6, 2011
By

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) — When people with type 2
diabetes also struggle with depression, their odds for a third worrisome
condition — dementia — goes up markedly, a new study suggests.

Specifically, patients with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to
develop dementia three to five years after being diagnosed with depression
compared to nondepressed people with diabetes, researchers found.

“We’ve known for years that diabetes is a risk factor for dementia,”
explained study lead author Dr. Wayne Katon, a professor and vice chair of
the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of
Washington’s School of Public Health in Seattle. “In fact, having diabetes
itself probably doubles the risk for dementia,” Katon added.

“We’ve also known that a very common accompanying condition with
diabetes is depression,” Katon said. “Some 20 percent of diabetics have
depression. And now our data suggests that if you do have depression in
addition to diabetes, it actually doubles again the already increased risk
for dementia that diabetic patients face.”

However, the study authors noted that the absolute risk of dementia for
any one person with depression and diabetes remains relatively small —
about one in 50.

Katon and his colleagues published their research, which was supported
by the U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded Diabetes Aging
Study and the Diabetes Study of Northern California, in the Dec. 5 online
edition of Archives of General Psychiatry.

The authors noted that depression and diabetes are among the most
prevalent health issues facing American seniors.

What’s more, each of the two conditions seem to independently raise the
risk for developing the other: Being diabetic bumps up the likelihood of
becoming depressed, while being depressed boosts the risk for developing
diabetes.

In the new study, the researchers focused on more than 19,000
California residents with diabetes between the ages of 30 and 75.

Nearly one in five of the patients were also deemed to be experiencing
“clinically significant” depression, the authors noted.

After monitoring for the onset of dementia over a three- to five-year
period, the research team found that just over 2 percent of those who had
both diabetes and depression went on to develop one or more forms of
dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

By contrast, just 1 percent of patients who had diabetes alone ended up
developing dementia during that period.

But the authors also noted that many of the things that can boost the
odds for depression among diabetic patients, such as eating a poor diet,
maintaining a sedentary lifestyle and/or smoking, are modifiable
behaviors. This means that patients and physicians alike have some clear
targets for interventions to lower depression risk, and possibly dementia
risk as well.

“So the important thing to focus on here is that there are very
effective treatments for depression,” said Katon. “And so if you’re a
diabetic who does have depression it’s very important to get it attended
to. Just as important as getting your diabetes itself treated.”

Dr. Robert Friedland, chair of neurology at the University of
Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Ky., agreed.

“It is not surprising that they should find a relationship between
depression in diabetics and a higher risk for dementia,” he said. “But I
would point out that although both diabetes and dementia have genetic
influences, there are also clear things people can do to lower their risk
for both. For example, avoiding obesity by eating a relatively low-fat
diet and engaging in regular physical exercise can help to prevent both
diabetes and depression. And, therefore, dementia as well.”

More information

There’s more on the diabetes-depression link at the American Diabetes Association.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/risk-dementia-rises-diabetes-depression-meet-study-210409558.html

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