The New York Daily News (1/15, Engel) reports that a study published online Jan. 14 in the journal Neurology suggests that individuals with Alzheimer’s “may experience depression and other behavioral changes before their memory starts to fade.” The study’s lead author explained, “While earlier studies have shown that an estimated 90% of people with Alzheimer’s experience behavioral or psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety and agitation, this study suggests that these changes begin before people even have diagnosable dementia.” For the study, researchers tracked “2,416 people who had visited an Alzheimer’s center.” All of the people were at least 50 years old and did not display any difficulties with cognition at the start of the study.
TIME (1/15, Sifferlin) reports that the participants were followed for seven years, during which time 1,218 people were diagnosed with dementia. The researchers found that participants “with dementia had twice the risk of developing depression earlier – far before their dementia symptoms started – than people without the disease,” and had a 12 times higher likelihood of delusions. What’s more, “the symptoms appeared in consistent phases: first, irritability, depression, and nighttime behavior changes; followed by anxiety, appetite changes, agitation and apathy.” In the final phase, patients displayed “elation, motor disturbances, hallucinations, delusions and disinhibition.”
— “Alzheimer’s first may show itself as depression, mood changes: study,” Meredith Engel, New York Daily News, January 14, 2015.