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Depression Treatment May Help Alzheimer’s Patients Keep Independence

Depression Treatment May Help Alzheimer's Patients Keep Independence Emerging research suggests depression can speed the decline of cognitive skills and the ability to perform daily tasks among individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center say that although these findings are observational, they could suggest that providing mental health treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease might slow the loss of independence.

Study findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“This is the first paper to show that declines in function and cognition are interrelated over time, and that the presence of depression is associated with more rapid functional decline,” said senior author Yaakov Stern, Ph.D.

The relationship between Alzheimer’s and depression is strong as almost half of Alzheimer’s patients have depression.

As a result, researchers who were studying the long-term association between cognitive and functional abilities in the disease, also looked at the role of depressive symptoms in disease progression.

They reviewed data that tracked changes in cognition, depression, and daily functioning in 517 patients with probable Alzheimer’s. Patients were assessed prospectively every six months for more than 5-1/2 years.

“Making a prognosis for Alzheimer’s disease is notoriously difficult because patients progress at such different rates,” said first author Laura B. Zahodne, Ph.D.

“These results show that not only should we measure patients’ memory and thinking abilities, we should also assess their depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms that may affect their prognosis.”

Source: Columbia University Medical Center

Depressed elderly patient photo by shutterstock.

Depression Treatment May Help Alzheimer’s Patients Keep Independence

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Depression Treatment May Help Alzheimer’s Patients Keep Independence. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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