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Alzheimer's Disease Latest News: Untreated Depression, Sleeplessness May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's

First Posted: Sep 03, 2016 05:34 AM EDT

There are a number of factors that have been identified by health experts. Now, a new research suggests that not getting enough sleep and untreated depression can contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The study also indicated that even those who do not have a genetic predisposition for the disease may still be at risk.

A report by Medical Xpress claims that depression and sleeplessness have been considered symptoms of Alzheimer's disease for a while. It is important to point out that whether these factors are combines with genetic risk factors or merely on their own, untreated depression and lack of sleep can lead to the onset of Alzheimer's disease dementia later in life.

"Previous research has attempted to explore the relationship between depression, sleep disturbance and Alzheimer's disease. Our research is significant in that it is the first to find an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease due to insomnia and depression independently, as well as in combination with genetic risk factors," said Shanna L. Burke, assistant professor of social work at the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

In a previous study, Dr. Jane Saczynski of the University of Massachusetts discovered that depression at a younger age is a major risk factor in the development of dementia. Although the reasons are not clear, she considered that the inflammation that happens in a depressed person may be a factor. Also, specific proteins in the brain increase with depression, and may also be increasing the patient's risk for dementia, according to an article in helpforalzheimersfamilies.com.

Meanwhile, there are currently 39.9 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease all over the world. In the United States, Alzheimer's is considered the most common form of dementia in the elderly which affects 1 in 10 elderly people over 65 years old. though there is still no available treatment for the genetic risk factors that contribute to the degenerative disease, the results of the study suggest that managing depression and sleep disturbance may reduce the chances of a person from developing Alzheimer's disease.

News.fiu.edu reported that the commentary and associated findings on the study done by Burke and colleagues were given by Dr. David Steffens, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut. "Future studies are needed to better understand the role of sleep in development of Alzheimer's Disease, either as an independent risk factor or as a key depressive symptom that might further unlock the link between depression and Alzheimer's," said Steffens.

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