If You're Anxious and You Know It...

Anxiety increases dementia risk threefold

(RxWiki News) One of the best ways to get early treatment for dementia is to see the early signs — and know your risk of developing it. Past mental health conditions are some of those risk factors.

A recent study has found that having anxiety increases a person's likelihood of developing dementia.

"Seek help for anxiety or depression."

The study, led by Claire Burton, of the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University in the United Kingdom, aimed to find out the relationship between anxiety, depression and risk of dementia.

The study involved 400 patients over age 65 and 1,353 individuals of similar gender and age to compare to the study group patients.

The researchers looked at the study participants' records for risk factors of dementia and for whether the individuals had sought help for anxiety or depression.

They found that people who had been diagnosed with anxiety were almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia later in life.

They also found an association between depression and later diagnosis of dementia, but this relationship was overpowered by the diagnoses of anxiety because so many people with depression also have anxiety.

When they took into account this overlap, they did find that having depression still increased a person's risk of developing dementia.

However, having depression and anxiety together did not increase a person's risk of dementia any more than the effect of having the anxiety alone.

"Given the higher prevalence of anxiety primary care physicians should consider anxiety as well as depression as premorbid risk factors of dementia to improve early recognition and facilitate greater access to services," the authors concluded.

The study was published August 21 in the journal Family Practice. The research was funded by the West Midlands Deanery, the North Staffordshire Primary Care Research Consortium, the National Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development and an Arthritis Research UK Clinician Scientist Award. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 9, 2012