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Studies on the association between depression and dementia risk mostly use sum scores on depression questionnaires to model symptomatology severity. Since individual items may contribute differently to this association, this approach has limited validity.
We used network analysis to investigate the functioning of individual Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) items, of which, based on studies that used factor analysis, 3 are generally considered to measure apathy (GDS-3A) and 12 depression (GDS-12D). Functional disability and future dementia were also included in our analysis. Data were extracted from 3229 participants of the Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular care trial (preDIVA), analyzed as a single cohort, yielding 20,542 person-years of observation. We estimated a sparse network by only including connections between variables that could not be accounted for by variance in other variables. For this, we used a repeated L1 regularized regression procedure.
This procedure resulted in a selection of 59/136 possible connections. GDS-3A items were strongly connected to each other and with varying strength to several GDS-12D items. Functional disability was connected to all three GDS-3A items and the GDS-12D items “helplessness” and “worthlessness”. Future dementia was only connected to the GDS-12D item “memory problems”, which was in turn connected to the GDS-12D items “unhappiness” and “helplessness” and all three GDS-3A items.
Network analysis reveals interesting relationships between GDS items, functional disability and dementia risk. We discuss what implications our results may have for (future) research on the associations between depression and/or apathy with dementia.
In old age, both apathy and depression have been associated with an increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. This study evaluated the mediating role of cardiovascular risk factors in the relationship of apathy and mood symptoms with incident CVD.
Prospective cohort study of 1,790 community-dwelling older individuals (70–78 years) without a history of CVD or stroke. At baseline, apathy and mood symptoms were assessed with the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15), of which three items represent apathy symptoms. The mediational risk factors included were diabetes mellitus (DM), body mass index (BMI), current smoking, physical inactivity, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol. Incident CVD was evaluated after two years of follow-up. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Incident CVD occurred in 59 (3.3%) participants. Apathy symptoms had a significant estimated total effect on incident CVD, with increases of 2.2% for each unit increase in apathy score. Of this total effect, 22.7% was due to the mediational effects of physical inactivity (13.6%), current smoking (4.5%), and DM (4.5%). The remaining 77.3% was due to direct effects reflecting other mediational dynamics. No significant (in)direct effects of mood symptoms on incident CVD were found.
Physical inactivity, smoking, and DM account for nearly one-fourth of the variation reflecting the link between apathy symptoms and incident CVD. This illustrates the relevance of unfavorable health behaviors and assessment of DM in older individuals with apathy. The majority of the effect of apathy symptoms on incident CVD is caused by other, yet unknown, factors.
Systemic low-grade inflammation has repeatedly been associated with depression in old age, but the relationship with apathy is less clear. The present study assessed whether C-reactive protein (CRP) is differentially associated with symptoms of apathy and depression.
A population-based cohort study was carried-out. At baseline and after two and four years of follow-up, CRP levels were assessed and symptoms of apathy and depression were measured using the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale. Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of CRP with symptoms of apathy and depression.
Two thousand forty-seven community-dwelling participants (70–78 years) without a history of cardiovascular disease or stroke were studied. A cross-sectional association was found between CRP and apathy symptoms at three time points (odds ratio (OR) per natural log unit increase in CRP: baseline visit = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.12–1.75; two-year follow-up visit = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.17–2.25; four-year follow-up visit = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.03–2.21). This did not change after adjustment for demographics and depressive symptoms, and was slightly attenuated after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. No cross-sectional association was found with depressive symptoms. Baseline CRP did not predict incident apathy or depressive symptoms during four years of follow-up.
Increased CRP levels are associated with apathy symptoms but not with depressive symptoms. This suggests a differential effect of inflammation on apathy and depression. In older persons, symptoms of apathy may be a behavioral manifestation of concurrent low-grade inflammation.
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