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

archers focused on more than 19,000 California residents with diabetes between the ages of 30 and 75.

Nearly one in five of the patients were also deemed to be experiencing "clinically significant" depression, the authors noted.

After monitoring for the onset of dementia over a three- to five-year period, the research team found that just over 2 percent of those who had both diabetes and depression went on to develop one or more forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

By contrast, just 1 percent of patients who had diabetes alone ended up developing dementia during that period.

But the authors also noted that many of the things that can boost the odds for depression among diabetic patients, such as eating a poor diet, maintaining a sedentary lifestyle and/or smoking, are modifiable behaviors. This means that patients and physicians alike have some clear targets for interventions to lower depression risk, and possibly dementia risk as well.

"So the important thing to focus on here is that there are very effective treatments for depression," said Katon. "And so if you're a diabetic who does have depression it's very important to get it attended to. Just as important as getting your diabetes itself treated."

Dr. Robert Friedland, chair of neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Ky., agreed.

"It is not surprising that they should find a relationship between depression in diabetics and a higher risk for dementia," he said. "But I would point out that although both diabetes and dementia have genetic influences, there are also clear things people can do to lower their risk for both. For example, avoiding obesity by eating a relatively low-fat diet and engaging in regular physical exercise can help to prevent both diabetes and depression. And, therefore, dementia as well."

More information

There's more on the diabetes-depression link at the

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