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Alzheimer’s May Start Sooner for People With Anxiety, Depression History

Questions currently remain whether the cognitive changes are leading to psychiatric conditions or the psychiatric conditions are contributing to the cognitive changes. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco led by Dr. Zachary Miller, MD have identified a relationship between mood and Alzheimer’s disease. A personal history of anxiety and/or depression led to an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 2-3 years. The retrospective study examined 1,500 individuals from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. Interestingly, people with depression and anxiety were more likely female and also had a high prevalence of an autoimmune disease or seizures. “While this association between depression and autoimmune disease, and seizures and anxiety is quite preliminary, we hypothesize that the presentation of depression in some people could possibly reflect a greater burden of neuroinflammation,” Miller said. “The presence of anxiety might indicate a greater degree of neuronal hyperexcitability, where the networks in the brain are overstimulated, potentially opening up new therapeutic targets for dementia prevention.” The findings suggest that psychiatric disorders each possess unique and additive effects on Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology.


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