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Am J Psychiatry. 1993 Nov;150(11):1693-9.

The course of geriatric depression with "reversible dementia": a controlled study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College, White Plains, NY.



The goals of this longitudinal investigation were 1) to study the rate of development of irreversible dementia in elderly depressed patients with a dementia syndrome that subsided after improvement of depression and 2) to compare it with that of depressed, never-demented patients.


The subjects were 57 elderly patients consecutively hospitalized for major depression. At entry into the study, 23 subjects also met criteria for "reversible dementia," while 34 were without dementia. After a systematic clinical evaluation, the subjects were followed up at approximately yearly intervals for an average of 33.8 months.


Irreversible dementia developed significantly more frequently in the depressed group with reversible dementia (43%) than in the group with depression alone (12%). Survival analysis showed that the group with reversible dementia had a 4.69-times higher chance of having developed dementia at follow-up than the patients with depression alone. No clinical characteristics at entry into the study were found to discriminate the subjects who developed irreversible dementia during the follow-up period from those who remained nondemented.


These findings suggest that geriatric depression with reversible dementia is a clinical entity that includes a group of patients with early-stage dementing disorders. Therefore, identification of a reversible dementia syndrome is an indication for a thorough diagnostic workup and frequent follow-ups in order to identify treatable neurological disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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