Narrator: This is Science Today. Vascular diseases such as strokes have commonly been blamed for depression and dementia in older adults. But a University of California , San Francisco study has found that this may not be the case. Psychiatry professor Deborah Barnes explains.
Barnes: The thinking before was that vascular disease might cause, both depressive symptoms and it might lead to cognitive impairment or dementia over time. So, some people had thought that older adults might be having small brain infarcts – small mini-strokes basically – and that that might cause both the depression and the cognitive impairment. But basically, what we found was no link between those mini-strokes and the depression and the cognitive impairment.
Narrator : Instead, Barnes says their study revealed that depression in older adults may actually be an early sign of neurodegeneration. According to their study, the more depressed older adults are, the more likely they are to develop mild cognitive impairment within six years. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.