Study Finds Depression Linked to Memory in Elderly

In a study which included 1100 people whose average age was 71, researchers found that depression may play a key role in the ability to remember. The study author, Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, said that this is an important find.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” Al Hazzouri said.

Those taking part in the study had no history of stroke. At the beginning of the research, they took tests to assess their memory and thinking skills and had brain scans and general health check-ups. Five years later those tests were repeated.

At the onset of the study, about 22 percent of the people in the study had more symptoms of depression. Those showing more symptoms of depression also had lower scores on tests of episodic memory- the ability to remember specific experiences and events. The study, however, does not prove that the depression is actually the cause of the poor memory.

The study also found that people with depression had smaller brain volume. Their brains were also 55 percent more likely to have lesions. The study found no connection between more depression and changes in thinking skills over the five-year period of the study.

“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,” Zeki Al Hazzouri noted in a journal news release.