Individuals diagnosed with depression or chronic stress, compared with those without these conditions, have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer disease (AD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) later in life, according to study findings published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

Previous research, both epidemiological and mechanistic, suggest that stress and depression both contribute to the risk for dementia, but it’s unclear whether they are “part of the same mechanistic pathway or independently contribute to dementia risk,” researchers wrote. For the study, the researchers investigated the association between stress-related disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and the risk of developing dementia.

The researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 1,362,548 people between the ages of 18 and 65 using Region Stockholm’s administrative health care database, which indicates a diagnosis of stress-induced exhaustion (SED) and/or depression from 2012 to 2013. Between 2014 and 2022, the researchers followed the cohort for a diagnosis of AD or MCI.

The researchers found that among the cohort, a total of 0.3% of patients were diagnosed with SED; 2.9% were diagnosed with depression; and 0.1% were diagnosed with both SED and depression.

[F]uture studies should analyze whether dementia proceeded by stress or/and depression also have been confirmed by CSF biomarkers.

Compared with individuals without SED or depression, the risk for AD was more than double among those with SED (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.45; 99% CI, 1.22-4.91) or depression (aOR, 2.32; 99% CI, 1.85-2.90). The risk for AD was 4 times higher in patients with both SED and depression (aOR, 4.00; 99% CI, 1.67-9.58) compared with those without SED or depression.

By Isaac Velez, MPP

Photo by SAM LIN