Just a few days back, we mentioned that depression may be associated with eating more chocolates. A new study highlights that depression may increase the chances of developing dementia later in life. Experts anticipate this study may erase the confusion over previous analyses that revealed conflicting findings about the relation between depression and dementia.

Experts enlisted 949 people with average age of 79 years from the Framingham Heart Study. Initially the participants were free from dementia but showed signs of depression. They observed depressive symptoms on the basis of several questions particularly general depression, sleep complaints, social relationships and other factors. Experts observed that 125 people were categorized as having depression at the beginning of the analysis. These participants were examined for a period of 17 years.

“While it’s unclear if depression causes dementia, there are a number of ways depression might impact the risk of dementia. Inflammation of brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed might contribute to dementia. Certain proteins found in the brain that increase with depression may also increase the risk of developing dementia. In addition, several lifestyle factors related to long-term depression, such as diet and the amount of exercise and social time a person engages in, could also affect whether they develop dementia,” explains study author Jane Saczynski, PhD, with the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA.

Towards the end of the analysis 164 people developed dementia out of which 136 were particularly detected with Alzheimer’s disease. About 22 percent of people were depressed at the beginning of the day and showed signs of dementia as compared to 17 percent people who were not depressed. There was a 70 percent augmented risk among those who were not depressed. Absolute risk for dementia was 0.21 percent among those who were not depressed and 0.34 among those who were depressed. Findings did not deviate with respect to age, sex, education and whether they had the APOE gene that heightened a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

These findings were published in the July 6, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.