A Warwickshire GP is urging people to be aware of the potential link between depression in old age and the early onset of dementia.
Dr Nick Tait, who divides his time between his Leamington NHS surgery and TFJ Private GP Services, a private medical group of doctors based at the Nuffield Health Warwickshire Hospital, is raising awareness of the issue to coincide with World Alzheimer’s Month.
The awareness campaign is part of a month of action, which runs throughout September and is marked by World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September.
This year’s theme is ‘remember me,’ to highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of dementia.
Dr Tait said the results of a 28-year follow-up study published earlier this year by the JAMA Network suggest depressive symptoms could indicate the beginnings of the condition.
He said: “It used to be thought that depression could be a cause of dementia in older people.
“However, the results of this recent study suggest that depression does not seem to increase the risk for dementia, but depressive symptoms in later life could be a feature of the beginnings of dementia.”
Dr Tait said there are things which can be done to reduce dementia risk, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a steady weight, exercising regularly, only drinking alcohol in moderation and avoiding smoking.
He added: “The advice I’d give to help reduce dementia risk is very similar to many other conditions – eat healthily, take plenty of exercise and enjoy the finer things in life in moderation.
“However, the biggest risk factor for dementia is ageing and, sadly, that can’t be changed.”
If you want to speak to a doctor about depression, dementia or other health queries, you can make an appointment by calling TFJ Private GP Services on 01926 436303.