MIAMI — One more reason to take extra care of your mental health, especially on the hard days: Depression among older adults may lead to faster brain aging and memory problems, according to a new study.

The study also revealed that elderly people with depression have slightly different brain structures compared to those without depression symptoms.

Man battling headache, stress
One more reason to take extra care of your mind, especially on the hard days: Depression among older adults may lead to faster brain aging and memory problems, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine examined 1,111 adults about 70 years old who haven’t suffered from strokes. They were all given brain scans, psychological exams, and memory assessment tests. They were tested again five years after the first tests.

Based on standard tests for depression, the researchers determined that 22% of the participants were suffering from the condition or had some symptoms of it at the start of the study. They found that those who had greater symptoms fared worse on tests of episodic memory, which includes memories of experiences and significant events throughout life.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” says study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri in an American Academy of Neurology press release. “With as many as 25 percent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems.”

The researchers also found that those who suffered from depression had differences in brain structure, such as smaller brain volume and a 55% chance of developing small, vascular lesions on the brain.

“Small vascular lesions in the brain are markers of small vessel disease, a condition in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged,” adds Zeki Al Hazzouri. “Our research suggests that depression and brain aging may occur simultaneously, and greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease.”

The authors did not find a connection between depression symptoms and thinking skills for participants, though because the study period was only five years, it may not have been a long enough trial to get an accurate snapshot.

The full study was published May 9, 2018 in the journal Neurology.

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  1. crazymind99 says:

    No, depression makes you feel young again. This story says depression is treatable so make sure the psych meds are pushed. This is the real story.

  2. Michigan J. Frog says:

    There is no mention of weather or not any of the people studied were taking psych meds.
    I strongly suspect that the brain changes are the result of medications intended to treat depression, rather than the depression itself.

    1. Jefferson says:

      I hear this a lot, Frog, and it makes me really damn angry. We would all be much better off if the lid came off and we began to research the benefits of “recreational drugs” as they are commonly called. Anti-depressants are a LOUSY attempt at medicating people’s emotional suffering, we could be doing a much better job, and I will say from experience that trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. are far more devastating to a person than a chemically induced smile. We could be having a REVOLUTION in medicine right now if it weren’t for the knee-jerk anti-drug people thinking “changes” are to be avoided, “changes” are usually exactly what a person needs to survive chronic depression.

      1. Michigan J. Frog says:

        I don’t understand, you are angry at what?

        I am taking the position that the drugs are far more likely to be the cause of the brain changes in seniors than depression.

        Most of the psych drugs people are taking the medical community have no idea how or why they work and have no idea what long term use will do to people.

        Let me guess, you are on some of the drugs and it has “helped” you.

        A drugs that alters your mind, altering your perception of how well said drug is working, thus, making your perception of the effects of the drug suspect.

      2. Jefferson says:

        You got me Frog, I’m just a druggie who went crazy taking drugz and altered his mind, never trust anything I say. It is a dogmatic attitude like yours that will throw a weakened family member into the throws of depression, that’s what makes me angry. It is our society’s attitude toward the people who are suffering that bothers me.

        No matter what I say it will lead to an ad hominem attack at this point. I was raised by cultists who used emotional manipulation, I am very happy with the result of my treatment, which is over. Now I am a happy atheist. All of my family has your same attitude now (crazy Jeff, took happy pills, went crazy and left us) It is a complex topic that someone like you couldn’t possibly understand.

        If you started taking a heavy regimen of anti-depressants, I don’t think anything would change for you. You’d probably think they were unpleasant, no effect, maybe you’re easier to get along with maybe you’re worse, depending on your programming, your environment, etc. They certainly wouldn’t ruin you.

        To people who’re used to looking down at an abused person and thinking it is “normal”, it may look like “crazy” when in fact they’ve just removed the cuffs and shackles in their lives. I don’t know much about schizophrenia and what those people are experiencing, but the fact that you lump an SSRI in with anti-psychotics speaks volumes about you.

      3. Michigan J. Frog says:

        I said nothing about the suffering of people afflicted. You may want to consider how the drugs are effecting your reaction to what I wrote.

        Re-read what you wrote, slowly, doth protest too much?

        The fact remains, the likelihood that the brain shrinkage in seniors is due to medications is far far more likely than from depression. The fact that the shrinkage was just “discovered” indicates it has not been happening through history and is a new phenomena, that just happens to coincide with the dramatic increase in the use of psych meds over the last 50 years.
        I am trying to inform those afflicted with mental issues that the drugs used to treat them may be far more dangerous than they have been told and may create other mental and/or physical issues, like brain shrinkage.

      4. Jefferson says:

        What in the hell makes you think it’s “far more likely”? Do tell.

        You know those same drugs are merely altering the naturally occurring brain chemistry, right? Same old seretonin.

      5. Michigan J. Frog says:

        This is where we disagree, the drugs are NOT merely altering the naturally occurring brain chemistry.
        An increase in serotonin is one measurable change, no ones know HOW the serotonin is increased and there is a laundry list of other effects that they cause and long term use has not been studied.
        2018 article about the side effects and that long term studies do not exist and all the other effects the drugs may have on body chemistry and heath.

        “An SSRI binds to SERT and blocks its activity, allowing more serotonin to remain in the spaces between neurons. Yet, exactly how this biochemistry then works against depression remains a scientific mystery.”

        “In fact, SSRIs fail to work for mild cases of depression, suggesting that regulating serotonin might be an indirect treatment only. “There’s really no evidence that depression is a serotonin-deficiency syndrome,” says Alan Gelenberg, a depression and psychiatric researcher at The Pennsylvania State University. “It’s like saying that a headache is an aspirin-deficiency syndrome.” SSRIs work insofar as they reduce the symptoms of depression, but “they’re pretty nonspecific,” he adds.”

        Some patients taking SSRIs develop insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea. These problems are usually temporary or mild or both. A more serious potential problem is reduced blood clotting capacity because of a decreased concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin in platelets. Patients are at increased risk for stomach or uterine bleeding, and are more likely to require a blood transfusion during or after surgery.

      6. Jefferson says:

        > no ones know HOW the serotonin is increased

        You answered your own question.

        > An SSRI binds to SERT and blocks its activity, allowing more serotonin to remain in the spaces between neurons.

        It works a lot like cocaine, cocaine is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, the movie stars like to use it before they go on stage.

        You know these SSRIs have been on the market for 30 years? People take them and it’s not because they’re addictive, in fact they are unpleasant! People take them not knowing what will happen, but I’ve gotten a pretty good understanding and I can tell you:

        It dulls the senses. It certainly IS an indirect treatment. You live like that for a while, maybe you can build some more positive memories, maybe you stop worrying so much, eventually you’ve built your life back up to the point that you can stop taking the drugs. Changes are crucial to this process.

        I don’t think you have the necessary perspective to understand any of this and now you’re googling for shit.

      7. Michigan J. Frog says:

        So you are choosing to ignore the next line that I posted for the reference?

        “Yet, exactly how this biochemistry then works against depression remains a scientific mystery.”

        The necessary perspective?
        Are you saying my opinion is not valid because I am not on the drugs?
        I have no problem with you “believing” in the drugs and that they are helpful. I just think you are being naïve thinking that they are safe and only effect serotonin.

        Again, my point still holds, the shrinkage of seniors brains is far more likely to be caused by foreign chemicals introduced to the body than depression.

      8. Jefferson says:

        Oh there it is, the answer I was waiting for, you think “foreign chemicals” are bad. K. *pats head*

      9. Michigan J. Frog says:

        SSRI drugs are not serotonin, they are other chemicals that never naturally occur in the human body that are designed to alter the uptake of serotonin, thus the name “Selective Serotonin Reabsorption Inhibitor”.

        So ….If your argument is that the brain shrinkage in depressed seniors is due to depression and couldn’t be from the psych meds is based on SSRI’s being chemicals that naturally occur in the human body and are harmless, then you have been misinformed, no SSRI drug is naturally occurring in the human body, they are chemicals made in a lab that are foreign to the human body.

      10. Jefferson says:

        So what constitutes a “foreign” chemical? If we harvested cadavers for drugs you’d be ok with that? Plants? I just think you’re so full of dogma it’s ridiculous to even argue with you at this point. Go outside and take a breath of fresh air: foreign chemicals everywhere, radioactive chemicals even.

        Yes I do believe that mental stress can cause “brain shrinkage”. Sometimes old age, lack of exercise, anything can cause it, and stress-related disease can be an underlying factor in all of that. Blaming the chemicals designed to treat specific diseases and labelling them “foreign” is just ridiculous anti-drug dogma to me.

      11. Michigan J. Frog says:

        I understand, you are an advocate.

        Just to be clear, a foreign chemical is any chemical that is introduced to the body that does not naturally occur in the body or naturally consumed through normal consumption of nutrients.

        What is anti-drug dogma?

        I am not anti-drug, the vast majority of drugs are helpful but, if history is any lesson, chemicals designed to treat specific diseases (drugs) are very often more damaging that the diseases they are intended to treat.

        Also, depression is not a disease, FYI.

      12. Jefferson says:

        And what is a “nutrient”? How many psychoactive chemicals do you think you ate for breakfast this morning?

        > What is anti-drug dogma?

        Do I really need to define these words for you? Here I googled “anti-drug dogma” and I found this, maybe something for you here:

        > And, depression is not a disease, FYI.

        Uh…. ok? I won’t even try to slice that one up. You can believe whatever you want.

        > If history is any lesson, chemicals designed to treat specific diseases are very often more damaging that the diseases they are intended to treat.

        Name one drug that you think was more damaging than the disease, that made it through the FDA in the last, say, 50 years? I’m sure you can find one, really… I’m more curious which one you pick.

      13. Michigan J. Frog says:

        A nutrient is food, what the human animal eats for substance. Yes there are psychoactive chemicals in food. Foreign chemicals are chemicals that would not otherwise be introduced into the human body through normal living and/or chemicals that do not occur in nature, like SSRIs. Some medications are derived from natural sources but are processed to concentrations that are never found in nature.

        Interesting, I have never heard the term anti-drug dogma, and now I know why I have never heard of it. It is a made up term intended to paint people who are not drug advocates as backward and prejudice against people who use drugs.

        Depression is a condition, a disorder or a syndrome, meaning depression has definable symptoms but no definable cause. Diseases have definable symptoms and a definitive cause that can be tested for.

        Fen-Phen (Fenfluramine/Phentermine)
        Vioxx (Rofecoxib)
        Posicor (Mibefradil)
        Bextra (Valdecoxib)
        Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
        Terfenadine (Seldane)
        Troglitazone (Rezulin)

        There are hundreds, I chose easily googled ones.

      14. Jefferson says:

        Vioxx, Bextra, these belong to a class called COX-2 inhibitors, which is a more specific receptor than the general COX inhibitors that you’re used to taking over the counter. Ibuprofen proves to be equally harmful as these drugs, and yet millions of people benefit from these drugs every day. Go and google Celebrex vs Vioxx.

        You know you could take corticosteroids, a substance found naturally in the human body, instead of ibuprofen, and it would relieve the same sort of inflammation? It also causes a host of other side effects, but hey at least it’s not a “foreign chemical”. I would choose Celecoxib (a COX-2 inhibitor) over hormones any day, safer than ibuprofen if you ask me, less likely to give you an ulcer, same tiny risk of heart valve problems that ibuprofen has.

        Fen-Phen was a stimulant diet pill meant to treat obesity. I can’t really tell you what I think about this, or whether esophageal implants are any safer, women looking to fit in a size-1 dress are less likely to go for the implant though.

        Mebefridil – voluntary withdrawal due to interactions and… “the study found that Posicor was no more effective than placebo”. Nobody died.

        Diethylstilbestrol – This is a good one, endocrine disruptor used on cattle, but it was a long time ago. It would never make it through the FDA today. Lesson learned: be very conservative with pregnant women. However it did treat a lot of men with prostate cancer, and proved to be an effective and safe treatment, yet was superseded by better drugs.

        Terfenadine – An antihistamine. Nobody ever died, but a better variant became available. Probably delivered a whole lot of satisfaction to allergy sufferers. Poor example.

        Troglitazone – Good one, appears to have definitive harmful toxic effects that were somehow hidden. Diabetes is a lot like cancer, where we can set aside some harmful effects in order for people to have a good quality of life, and the state of the art advances rapidly.

        I was hoping you would point to one that really struck you as the most awful thing, ruining lives, destroying the world. It is a HUGE leap from DES babies to your mistaken belief that “SSRI’s are likely to cause brain shrinkage” and that “foreign chemicals likely to be bad”. You write depression off as “not a disease” and yet people die from it every day. Where is the logic to your position? Do you also avoid vaccination? That’s what I mean by dogma, you’ll take this position no matter what, because why? I don’t know! Mom and dad programmed you to think this way, there is no rational thought going on in your head.

      15. Michigan J. Frog says:

        It has become abundantly clear you are an advocate for the use of drugs and appear to need them, or could that be an effect of the drugs?

        Enjoy your chemical induced state and never let anyone tell you that your choices may be detrimental.

        So, we disagree.

        I think that brain shrinkage associated with depression would have been discovered long ago if it were caused by depression and it far more likely that medications are causing the brain shrinkage than depression itself.

        You think that brain shrinkage couldn’t be from the drugs and must be caused by depression, and a bunch of stuff about being persecuted for taking drugs and disparaged for taking drugs.

        It’s ok to disagree.

      16. Jefferson says:

        “… and appear to need them”… what a joke, willful ignorance.

      17. Michigan J. Frog says:

        I am still interested in why you believe that it more likely that depression causes the brain shrinkage than drugs …. the entire point of this exchange …. and how it could be that no doctor has noticed this brain shrinkage in the past and investigated?

      18. Michigan J. Frog says:

        Irrelevant example. A little girl deprived of all stimuli is nothing like a depressed senior citizen. A young persons brain is growing and without stimuli of course it atrophied. An old person’s brain is not growing and does not need constant stimuli. Laying in bed, most likely with a television is not the same.
        I have known many people diagnosed with depression and yes they will sit in darkened rooms and such, but never for most of their life. Who is feeding and supporting them and never doing anything about their condition?
        I think I get what you are getting at….
        That the behaviors associated with depression could cause the brain shrinkage?
        I still think it more likely that drugs would cause the shrinkage, I have to track down this exact study and read the details ……

      19. Jefferson says:

        Mental illness is a very significant thing, and it’s very complex. I didn’t always know this, but through personal experiences and my connections with other people I can see the harmful effects that a person’s social situation/environment can have on their mind, and how that can translate into physical manifestations.

        Anxiety can destroy someone very quickly, always thinking the same thing over and over, obsessively. Some become addicts or gain weight, these are symptoms of a deeper problem. It’s like a loop, some people’s issues are so repressed, buried underneath a mountain of subsequent issues, that you can never hope to break them out of it. But if you can identify these issues early on you are much more likely to help them. The anti-depressants are a very mild thing but they do work for some people to get out of that loop.

        An overbearing father can unwittingly destroy his children’s mind in an effort to control them and make them subjectively better off. I think the main resistance against something like an anti-depressant is from overbearing fathers, narcissists, etc. who see it as working against their own interests; having control of the other person. That’s what makes me angry. I’m not saying you are part of that group, but you are in support of those same ends; leaving people to suffer and give in to pressure.

        Thanks for listening. There is a lot of groundbreaking research into the mind-body connection going on right now. Here is some info on stress hormones.

      20. Michigan J. Frog says:

        What is your logic that leads you to believe that the drugs could not be the cause of the brain shrinkage?
        Leaving people to suffer?
        So, the only help for people with depression is drugs and without them they are doomed to suffer? Liam argument, there are many other courses of action to alleviate the suffering of depression other than drugs, granted they require far more effort than taking a pill, but hey are proven to work i.e. exercise, meditation, therapy, diet, etc .

      21. Jefferson says:

        I practice medicine for a living, in case you can’t tell.

      22. Michigan J. Frog says:

        That is a bit distressing, but makes why you are so adamantly pro-drug far more logical, it’s profitable for you, your career depends on it.

      23. Jefferson says:

        We have wounded war veterans in this country who come back with PTSD. For the past few decades we’ve been incarcerating people for taking “recreational” drugs, and now we’ve finally learned that these drugs are actually incredibly useful tools for the treatment of acute PTSD, an acute anti-depressant for an acute problem.

        Lets start here. Tell me all about your dogmatic views on this subject…

  3. Kenny says:

    When you think your brain power is slipping you will be depressed.

  4. Ranger Danger says:

    I really thought I should be concerned about this, but then, I thought, who the hell cares. Damn, that’s depressing!

  5. Logan russ1122 Adams says:

    Man, this study is so depressing. Now what was the study about?

  6. Catlove says:

    Is it depression that causes dementia, or is it anticholinergic drugs like SSRIs and sleeping pills that many depressed people take?

  7. richard555 says:

    Political correctness is just organized anti white hatred.

    If diversity is such a strength, why is this “gift” given to White populations only, when there are so many non white places that “need” it much more?

    Diversity means taking things that are white and making them non white

    It means finding the last white person and Chasing Them Down

    Its Geno Cide