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Research on Depression in the Workplace.

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Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's

MHM Volume 7 Issue1 small

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 15 - There appears to be no association between depressive symptoms and subsequent cognitive decline in older adults, according to the findings of a prospective, epidemiologic study conducted by researchers in Pennsylvania.

Over a 12-year period, Dr. Mary Ganguli of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medical and colleagues examined the association between depressive symptoms and subsequent cognitive decline in 1265 nondemented adults 67 years of age or older.

At follow-up, 1094 subjects were still dementia free and 171 had developed dementia. In the dementia-free subjects, those with depressive symptoms at baseline, had significantly lower baseline scores on all cognitive measures than nondepressed patients. Among those who eventually developed dementia, depression was associated with worse performance on some but not all cognitive measures.

The dementia-free group experienced minimal cognitive decline over time, whereas marked decline occurred in subjects who later developed dementia, according to the report published in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. No association was observed between depressive symptoms and the rate of cognitive decline over time in either group.

"If an older person is depressed and performs poorly on cognitive tests, the two may well be related," Dr. Ganguli said in an interview. "However, if the person continues to decline cognitively over time, that decline is likely not due to depression; it is more likely due to an incipient dementia which will manifest itself down the line."

"Once we separate out the effect of an underlying dementia, depression does not seem to lead to further cognitive decline," she notes.

"It is essential for clinicians and researchers in different fields to work more closely together," she added. "For example, information from epidemiological studies such as ours will complement findings from longer-term clinical trials" that examine whether treating depression can reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry 2006;63:153-160.


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