Posted on Jul 10, 2019, 2 p.m.
While it is normal to feel sad from time to time, being sad continuously can make you old, according to this study published in the journal Psychological Medicine, which found there is a clear link between depression and increased risk of dementia as well as overall cognitive decline later in life.
Changes in circumstances can cause a temporary loss of happiness which is normal, but when the sadness lingers and you lose interest in things you once enjoyed, you lose appetite, and energy levels are low you could be dealing with depression.
Depression is far more common than most people realize, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common disorders in the nation that is reported to affect over 17 million adult Americans, with the greatest levels of depression being felt by those between the ages of 18-25.
Previous studies have confirmed a link between dementia and depression, in this study, researchers from the University of Sussex found a link between depression and a general decline in total cognitive function.
Results from 34 longitudinal studies were analyzed to determine the effects depression has on long term cognition; review involved over 71,000 participants of which some were diagnosed with depression while others had not been diagnosed but exhibited symptoms. Those that were diagnosed with dementia were excluded from this study, and particular attention was given to evidence of decline in memory, decision making ability, and information processing speed.
Those with depression were found to experience a greater decline in cognitive state during older adulthood. The findings may be important for early intervention for dementia as there currently is no cure and there is a long preclinical period of several decades before diagnosis.
As a whole, the world’s population is aging and depression rates are increasing; since there is a link between depression and cognitive decline the numbers of people experiencing dementia and cognitive decline is expected to steadily increase over the next three decades, according to Dr. Darya Gaysina of the University of Essex.
Results suggest that is important to deal with depression as early as possible to feel better now and to prevent problems later in life, as depression is treatable and there are many things that can be done to deal with it and mitigate the risks of later cognitive decline.
“It’s not inevitable that you’ll see a greater decline in cognitive abilities,” noted Amber John, one of the study’s authors. “Taking preventive measures such as exercising, practicing mindfulness, and undertaking recommended therapeutic treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, have all been shown to be helpful in supporting well-being, which in turn may help protect cognitive health in older age.”
“Knowing the signs of a disorder and seeking treatment is very important. Do get an evaluation if you’re wondering. Exercising regularly will help with both anxiety and mood. Avoid recreational drugs or drinking excessively, which can make the problem worse. Make time to reflect on what you appreciate in your life. Get enough sleep, because sleep deprivation greatly affects mood. Finally, staying social and maintaining close relationships with others can help significantly.” explains Dr. Gail Saltz of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell Medical College.
Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to extreme irritability, anxiety, trouble controlling anger, loss of interest in everyday activities, obessing over things that have gone wrong in the past, prolonged sadness, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you are experiencing these symptoms please seek help, you are not alone, people want to help you, you are worth it.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.