Depressive symptoms, cognitive decline, and risk of AD in older persons

R. S. Wilson, L. L. Barnes, C. F. Mendes De Leon, N. T. Aggarwal, J. S. Schneider, J. Bach, J. Pilat, Laurel A Beckett, S. E. Arnold, D. A. Evans, D. A. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

383 Scopus citations


Background: Cross-sectional and retrospective case-control studies suggest an association of depression symptoms with cognitive impairment and AD, but there have been few prospective studies and their results have been inconsistent. Methods: Participants are Catholic clergy members who were aged ≥65 years and who did not have clinical evidence of AD. During a 7-year period, they underwent annual clinical evaluations that included clinical classification of AD and detailed cognitive function testing from which global and specific measures of cognition were derived. Number of depressive symptoms was assessed at baseline with a modified, 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). The association of CES-D score with incident AD, using proportional hazards models, and cognitive decline, using random effects models, was examined. Results: At baseline, participants reported an average of about one depressive symptom on the CES-D scale (range, 0 to 8). During the 7 years of follow-up, 108 persons developed AD. In analyses that controlled for selected demographic and clinical variables including baseline level of cognitive function, CES-D score was associated with both risk of AD and rate of cognitive decline. For each depressive symptom, risk of developing AD increased by an average of 19%, and annual decline on a global cognitive measure increased by an average of 24%. Conclusions: The results raise the possibility that depressive symptoms in older persons may be associated with risk of developing AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-370
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 13 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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