Older people suffering from depression age faster, study finds

Credit: Unsplash+

Dementia is a syndrome that refers to a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily activities.

It is a progressive condition that affects memory, thinking, and behavior, and can eventually lead to a loss of independence.

Dementia can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia, among others.

Aging, on the other hand, is a natural process that involves a gradual decline in physical and cognitive function over time.

As we age, our bodies undergo various changes, such as a decrease in muscle mass, bone density, and sensory acuity.

Our brains also undergo changes, such as a reduction in the number of neurons and synapses, which can affect memory, attention, and other cognitive abilities.

While aging is a natural process that affects everyone, the risk of developing dementia increases with age.

According to a recent study conducted by the UConn Center on Aging, older adults suffering from depression tend to age faster than their peers.

The study found that these patients exhibit evidence of accelerated biological aging, poor physical health, and brain function.

The team explained that these factors are the main drivers of this association.

The study tested 426 individuals with late-in-life depression, and researchers measured the levels of proteins associated with aging in their blood.

As cells age, they tend to function less efficiently, often producing proteins that promote inflammation or other unhealthy conditions.

The team compared the levels of these proteins with measures of the participants’ physical health, medical problems, brain function, and the severity of their depression.

Surprisingly, the severity of a person’s depression was not found to be related to their level of accelerated aging.

However, the researchers did find that accelerated aging was associated with worse cardiovascular health overall.

People with higher levels of aging-associated proteins were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and multiple medical problems.

Additionally, accelerated aging was linked to worse performance on tests of brain health, such as working memory and other cognitive skills.

The team believes that these two findings could help develop preventive strategies to reduce the disability associated with major depression in older adults and to prevent their acceleration of biological aging.

The researchers are currently exploring whether therapies to reduce the number of aged, “senescent” cells in a person’s body can improve late-in-life depression.

They are also studying specific sources and patterns of proteins associated with aging to develop personalized treatments in the future.

Overall, the study highlights the need to prioritize mental health and address depression in older adults to promote healthy aging.

How to have healthy aging

Here are several things you can do to promote healthy aging, which can help you maintain physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being as you get older. Here are some tips:

Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help you maintain muscle mass, bone density, and flexibility, and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excess salt and saturated fat.

Stay socially connected: Social isolation and loneliness can have negative effects on mental and physical health, so it’s important to stay connected with friends, family, and the community.

Keep your brain active: Engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, or learning a new skill to keep your brain sharp and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can have negative effects on physical and mental health, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

Get enough sleep: Quality sleep is important for physical and mental health, so aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and establish a regular sleep routine.

Take care of your mental health: Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can have negative effects on overall health and well-being, so it’s important to seek help if needed and practice self-care.

If you care about depression, please read studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies that ultra-processed foods may make you feel depressed, and your immune system may fight against depression.
The study was conducted by Breno Diniz et al and published in Nature Mental Health.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.