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AAN: Prior Psych Diagnosis Tied to Younger Age of Alzheimer Onset

TUESDAY, March 9, 2021 -- Previous diagnoses of depression and anxiety are inversely associated with age of onset of Alzheimer disease, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, to be held virtually from April 17 to 22.

Emily Eijansantos, from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues screened 1,500 patients with Alzheimer disease from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center for a history of psychiatric disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The researchers found that 43.3 percent of patients had a history of depression, 32.3 percent anxiety, 1.2 percent bipolar disorder, 1 percent PTSD, and 0.4 percent schizophrenia. Age of Alzheimer disease onset was significantly younger for those with depression or anxiety (2.1 and 3.0 years younger, respectively). Age of onset decreased with each additional psychiatric diagnosis (for one psychiatric disorder, there was a 1.5-year younger age of onset versus 3.3 years for two psychiatric conditions and 7.3 years for three or more diagnoses). Fewer typical Alzheimer disease risk factors were seen in the depression and anxiety cohorts, but the depression cohort possessed a significantly higher amount of autoimmune disease and the anxiety cohort possessed a greater frequency of seizures.

"Certainly this isn't to say that people with depression and anxiety will necessarily develop Alzheimer's disease, but people with these conditions might consider discussing ways to promote long-term brain health with their health care providers," a coauthor said in a statement.

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