Alzheimer's likely develops as a result of multiple factors—genetics, lifestyle, and environment included—per the Alzheimer's Association. While there is no way to know for sure whether someone will develop Alzheimer's later in life, a recent study claims that there is one health condition which might be a predictor of the memory loss disease occurring earlier rather than later. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
People With Depression May Get Alzheimer's Disease Early, Says Study
While it is already known that depression is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease, the latest research claims that if people do develop Alzheimer's disease, those with depression may start experiencing dementia symptoms about two years earlier than those who do not have depression. Additionally, those suffering from anxiety who go on to develop the condition, may start experiencing dementia symptoms about three years earlier than those who do not have anxiety.
The study involved 1,500 Alzheimer's patients at their center, 43 percent with a history of depression and one-third with a history of anxiety disorders. This group of patients with depression and anxiety were generally diagnosed with dementia at a younger age—two to three years—than those with no history of the mental health conditions.
There is a Link Between Psychiatric Disorders and Early Alzheimer's
They also found a link between the number of psychiatric disorders an individual suffered from and their likelihood to develop symptoms earlier. For example, those with just one disorder developed symptoms about 1.5 years earlier than those with no psychiatric disorders, while individuals with two psychiatric conditions developed symptoms 3.3 years earlier than those with no conditions. Those with three or more psychiatric disorders—which could include bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia—developed symptoms 7.3 years earlier than those with no such conditions.
"More research is needed to understand the impact of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety on the development of Alzheimer's disease and whether treatment and management of depression and anxiety could help prevent or delay the onset of dementia for people who are susceptible to it," study author Zachary A. Miller, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology explained in a press release. "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."
Read on for 10 signs you might be in the early stages of Alzheimer's, per the Alzheimer's Association.
You Are Experiencing Memory Loss That Is Disruptive to Your Daily Life
One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease is forgetting recently learned information, forgetting important dates of events, repeating the same questions or increasingly having to rely on memory aids or family members to help with things previously handled on their own.
You Are Having Trouble Planning or Problem Solving
Many people in the early stages find it difficult to develop or follow a plan or also work with numbers. This can be as harmless as not being able to follow a familiar recipe to having trouble keeping track of bills. Concentration can also be an issue and things might take them much longer to do than before.
You Are Having Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Completing daily tasks can become increasingly difficult for someone in the early stages of Alzheimer's. This can include having trouble driving to a familiar location, keeping track of a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
You Are Confused About Times or Places
If you are losing track of dates, seasons, or passages of time, it could be early Alzheimer's, specifically if it isn't happening immediately. You might also forget where you are or how you got there.
You Are Having Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
Vision problems can also be a sign of early Alzheimer's, which can lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They can also have trouble judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
You Are Having New Issues with Words in Speaking or Writing
Another sign of early Alzheimer's can be having trouble following or joining a conversation. You might stop in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue or you might repeat themselves. You might also struggle with vocabulary, struggle to name a familiar object or use the wrong name.
You Are Misplacing Things and Can't Retrace Steps
People with early Alzheimer's might misplace their items and find them in unusual places. This can be losing something and being unable to retrace steps.
Your Judgement Has Been Declining
You might experience changes in judgement or decision making if you have Alzheimer's. This can come in the form of making bad money decisions or not paying attention to hygiene.
You Start Withdrawing from Work or Social Activities
Holding or following a conversation can become increasingly difficult for someone with early Alzheimer's. This might lead you to withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. It can also lead to you having trouble keeping up with a favorite activity or sports team.
You Are Experiencing Mood and Personality Changes
If you are living with Alzheimer's, you may experience mood and personality changes, such as becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. You might also get easily upset.
Comment From the Experts
"The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) always holds out hope that new medications, if found to be safe, effective, and approved by the FDA, will become available to help the millions of families and individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease," says the foundation.
"Today's accelerated approval of Aducanumab by the FDA, the first new Alzheimer's drug on the market in nearly two decades, provides hope as another important step in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. We are hopeful that it will improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Patient access and affordability to all of those in need is of significant importance.
"Under the accelerated approval provisions, which provide patients earlier access to the treatment, the FDA is requiring a new randomized, controlled clinical trial to verify the drug's clinical benefit. If the trial fails to verify clinical benefit, the FDA may initiate proceedings to withdraw approval of the drug.
"Of course, the FDA's actions do not signal the finish line in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. It is essential for the federal government to continue building upon the actions it has taken to increase Alzheimer's research funding, expand caregiver support services and strengthen America's 'dementia infrastructure' to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease." Talk to your doctor if you are concerned—and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.