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Can Late-Life Depression Lead to Dementia?

By HERWriter
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can dementia follow depression that appears later in life? Auremar/PhotoSpin

For women heading into their 50s, the thought of aging can bring some uncomfortable and conflicting emotions to the surface. This is partly due to society and the media’s emphasis on the high value of youth. There are also some potential health concerns as well.

A study found in the journal Public Health suggested that more working-age people (such as people under 55 years old) are suffering from brain diseases like dementia. And the overall number of deaths from brain diseases has risen as well, according to ScienceDaily. Women’s neurological death rates increased more than men’s in most countries as well.

And now mental health’s connection to dementia has been brought into the spotlight by a meta-analysis study from The British Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers used 23 studies to determine that “late-life depression is associated with an increased risk for all-cause dementia, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the study’s conclusion. Researchers add that it would be helpful to focus on “late-life depression prevention” and its effect on dementia risk.

Experts provide tips to help women of all ages lessen their risk for both depression and dementia.

Dr. Samuel T. Gontkovsky, the director of Dementia Therapeutics, said in an email that social isolation is more common for older adults, especially after retirement, when a spouse dies or when children grow up.

“Remaining at home, in particular at home alone, for extended periods generally is not good for a person’s mental health,” Gontkovsky said. “Getting out and being with peers may dramatically improve a person’s emotional state.”

There are community events and activities, as well as volunteering opportunities, that adults can participate in to feel like they have more of a sense of purpose, he said.

Although you may be home alone often at times, it’s also important to not neglect personal hygiene.

“It can be helpful for individuals to come up with reasons to have to leave the home and be in public so that they feel a sense of obligation to groom appropriately,” he added.

Exercise can also combat depression.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.