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Risk for Dementia Rises When Diabetes, Depression Meet: Study
Date:12/5/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

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 rese
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