"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Late-life depression can signal memory loss or dementia.

Depression can strike at any age. Children can develop it, as can the elderly. No matter when it starts, depression can take the enjoyment and happiness out of life. A primary appearance of depression later in life can be an indication of memory loss or dementia down the road.

According to a study in Archives of General Psychiatry, dementia is more common in individuals who grow to be depressed in middle age or later in life than in individuals who should not depressed. In the study, age of onset was also linked to the variety of dementia—those with long-term depression had nearly double the chance of Alzheimer's disease, in comparison with those whose depression began in midlife. (They have thrice the chance of vascular dementia from poor blood flow to the brain).

Recognizing depression

Symptoms of depression in older adults are barely different—and lots of of them can mimic memory loss and illness. If you're experiencing these symptoms, or see them in a loved one, it's idea to see a primary care physician or psychiatrist for an evaluation:

  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • lack of energy; Fatigue
  • Irritability, frustration
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • get confused
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Aches and pains that don't go away.

“If someone has the onset of dementia and they're depressed, it's very important to treat their depression, and treat it as aggressively as possible,” says Dr. Crimmins. Older people who are suffering from depression must also be evaluated for dementia, she adds. Screening tests similar to the Mini-Mental State Exam and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment are short questionnaires that doctors use to discover cognitive impairment.