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Eur Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;17(5):254-8.

Depression in Alzheimer's disease: is there a temporal relationship between the onset of depression and the onset of dementia?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry of the University of Bonn, Sigmund Freud Str 25, 53105, Bonn, Germany.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients often present with concurrent major depression (MD). To investigate the reasons for this comorbidity, e.g. MD being a risk factor for AD, or both diagnoses having a common neurobiology, the temporal relationship between the first onset of AD and of MD during lifetime was investigated-57 out of 146 AD patients had a lifetime diagnosis of MD. The correlation between the ages at onset of MD and dementia was calculated. The incidence of MD in AD patients in several 5-year-intervals before and after the onset of AD was compared with the average incidence of MD in the present AD sample and with the expected incidence of MD in the general population. No significant correlation between the onset of AD and of MD could be found after controlling for age, gender and the Mini-Mental-State. However, the incidence of MD 5 years before and after the onset of AD significantly exceeded the expected incidences-MD is only partially related to AD. However, the increased incidence of MD within 5 years before and after the onset of dementia may indicate that a common neurobiological process causes cognitive decline and depression in a subsample of AD patients.

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