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Cognitive impairment and depression often co-occur in older adults, but it is not clear whether depression is a risk factor for cognitive decline, a psychological reaction to cognitive decline, or whether changes in depressive symptoms correlate with changes in cognitive performance over time. The co-morbid manifestation of depression and cognitive impairment may reflect either a causal effect or a common cause, depending on the specific symptoms experienced and the cognitive functions affected.
The study sample comprised 1506 community-dwelling older adults aged ⩾65 years from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). We conducted cross-domain latent growth curve analyses to examine longitudinal associations between late-life depression dimensions (i.e. depressed affect, positive affect, and somatic symptoms) and specific domains of cognitive functioning (i.e. processing speed, inductive reasoning, immediate recall, and delayed recall).
Poorer delayed recall performance at baseline predicted a steeper increase in depressed affect over time. Steeper decline in processing speed correlated with a steeper increase in somatic symptoms of depression over time.
Our findings suggest a prospective association between memory function and depressed affect, whereby older adults may experience an increase in depressed affect in reaction to poor memory function. Somatic symptoms of depression increased concurrently with declining processing speed, which may reflect common neurodegenerative processes. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that depression symptoms may be a risk factor for cognitive decline in the general population. These findings have potential implications for the treatment of late-life depression and for the prognosis of cognitive outcomes.
More information about the pattern of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) in the course of dementia is needed to inform patients and clinicians and to design future interventions.
To determine the persistence and incidence of BPSD and their relation to cognitive function, in individuals with dementia or in cohorts investigated for dementia onset.
A systematic literature review analysed the baseline prevalence, persistence and incidence of 11 symptoms. The review was conducted according to established guidelines with the exception that we could not exclude the possibilities of bias in the studies examined.
The 59 included studies showed considerable heterogeneity in their objectives and methods. The symptoms hyperactivity and apathy showed high persistence and incidence; depression and anxiety low or moderate persistence and moderate incidence; and psychotic symptoms low persistence with moderate or low incidence.
Despite heterogeneity across studies in terms of setting, focus and length of follow-up, there were clinically relevant differences in the longitudinal courses of different BPSD. Apathy was the only symptom with high baseline prevalence, persistence and incidence during the course of dementia.
There is growing recognition of the importance of both functioning and quality of life (QoL) outcomes in the treatment of depressive disorders, but the meta-analytic evidence is scarce. The objective of this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was to determine the absolute and relative effects of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and their combination on functioning and QoL in patients with depression.
One hundred and fifty-three outcome trials involving 29 879 participants with depressive disorders were identified through database searches in Pubmed, PsycINFO and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.
Compared to control conditions, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy yielded small to moderate effect sizes for functioning and QoL, ranging from g = 0.31 to g = 0.43. When compared directly, initial analysis yielded no evidence that one of them was superior. After adjusting for publication bias, psychotherapy was more efficacious than pharmacotherapy (g = 0.21) for QoL. The combination of psychotherapy and medication performed significantly better for both outcomes compared to each treatment alone yielding small effect sizes (g = 0.32 to g = 0.39). Both interventions improved depression symptom severity more than functioning and QoL.
Despite the small number of comparative trials for some of the analyses, this study reveals that combined treatment is superior, but psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy alone are also efficacious for improving functioning and QoL. The overall relatively modest effects suggest that future tailoring of therapies could be warranted to better meet the needs of individuals with functioning and QoL problems.
Half a century after the inception of the term “successful aging (SA),” a consensus definition has not emerged. The current study aims to provide a comprehensive snapshot of operational definitions of SA.
A systematic review across MedLine, PsycInfo, CINAHL, EMBASE, and ISI Web of Knowledge of quantitative operational definitions of SA was conducted.
Of the 105 operational definitions, across 84 included studies using unique models, 92.4% (97) included physiological constructs (e.g. physical functioning), 49.5% (52) engagement constructs (e.g. involvement in voluntary work), 48.6% (51) well-being constructs (e.g. life satisfaction), 25.7% (27) personal resources (e.g. resilience), and 5.7% (6) extrinsic factors (e.g. finances). Thirty-four definitions consisted of a single construct, 28 of two constructs, 27 of three constructs, 13 of four constructs, and two of five constructs. The operational definitions utilized in the included studies identify between <1% and >90% of study participants as successfully aging.
The heterogeneity of these results strongly suggests the multidimensionality of SA and the difficulty in categorizing usual versus successful aging. Although the majority of operationalizations reveal a biomedical focus, studies increasingly use psychosocial and lay components. Lack of consistency in the definition of SA is a fundamental weakness of SA research.
There is relative little information about the prevalence and risk factors of co-morbid anxiety and depression in later life. These disorders are often associated with worse response to treatment than either condition alone, and researching their epidemiology in diverse settings is vital to policy makers. We therefore investigated the co-occurrence of anxiety and depressive syndromes amongst older adults living in developing countries and measured the separate and joint effect of these two disorders on levels of associated disability.
The 10/66 study carried out cross-cultural surveys of all residents aged 65 years or over (n=15021) in 11 sites in seven countries (People's Republic of China, India, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and Peru). Anxiety was measured by using the Geriatric Mental State Examination and the Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy diagnostic system. Depression was assessed according to International Classification of Diseases 10th revision (ICD-10) and EURO-D criteria. Disability was measured by using the World Health Organization's Disablement Assessment Scale Version II. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression models were used to investigate the association of common mental disorders and disability.
The prevalence of co-occurring anxiety and depression (with the exclusion of subthreshold disorders) ranged between 0.9% and 4.2% across sites. Gender, socio-economic status, urbanicity and physical co-morbidities were associated with the different co-morbid states. Having both disorders was linked to higher disability scores than having anxiety or depression alone.
Given the close association of co-morbid anxiety and depression with disability, new policies to improve prevention, recognition and treatment will be needed to adapt to ageing populations and their mental health needs.
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