ADAPT Lab has new research published in British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP) today. You can read the full article here.
Previous research has shown that experiencing persistent problems with depression over the course of our lives is associated with increased risk of poorer cognitive outcomes, faster cognitive decline, and dementia.
However, it is currently unknown exactly why depression and cognitive function are linked. One possibility is that cardiometabolic risk may play an important role in this relationship. Cardiometabolic risk is an umbrella term which encompasses a cluster of cardiovascular and metabolic conditions.
Our research used data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), a sample of 17,415 people born in England, Scotland & Wales during one week of 1958, who have been followed up from birth to age 55. Data on depression was used at ages 23, 33, and 42. A measure of cardiometabolic risk was available at age 44. Measures of cognitive function were available at age 50.
Results showed that depression from age 23 to 42 was linked with higher cardiometabolic risk scores at age 44. Higher cardiometabolic risk at age 44 was in turn associated with poorer performance in some cognitive functions (memory and verbal fluency).
Therefore, cardiometabolic risk may play an important role in the relationship between depression and some cognitive functions.
Understanding the pathways linking depression to later cognitive decline and dementia is a key public health priority, with important implications for prevention of poorer cognitive ageing outcomes.
This study is summarised in the animation below:
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