chronic depression/frontal lobe/dementia

  1. I am busy doing my studies on Alzheimer's and other dementia. I have been told about a year, year-and-a-half ago that it has recently been shown that chronic depression can permanently affect the frontal lobe.

    Now that we are studying this in school I remembered being told this and it brought about my curiosity.

    Now, I understand that dementias can bring on depression, but can chronic depression, which permanently affects the frontal lobe (I assume if left untreated) predispose a person to Alzheimer's or other form of dementia later in life?

    I had asked our nursing instructor in class, but she wasn't sure, and I am still curious if anyone knows, or if they know any good websites for this subject. I have also researched my texts and have not found an answer

    Thanks
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   luv-my-dal
    .....I am hoping this isn't a silly question....and if it is or my facts are not correct, someone will surely let me know, right?
  4. by   dianah
    Not a silly question at all, I just don't have the expertise to offer any suggestions . . . other than to do an internet search, using different combinations of words. You may find SOMEONE out there who is actively looking into a connection between the Alzheimers and depression, as you describe. Good luck!
  5. by   P_RN
    That is indeed an intriguing question. I'm not sure I've read that before. Going to have to do a search to satisfy my curiosity.
  6. by   oramar
    P-RN, I thought the same thing. That is an orginal question. Congradulations on asking an original question. I don't know the answer either but I am glad someone asked it. I heard that long standing schizophenics supposedly develope changes in their frontal lobe, also heard that they have smaller lymbic systems. Also recently read a report that said people with long standing depression live on average 15 years less than close biological relatives. Just never heard anything about connections between depression and physical neuro changes in brain of the kind that can be seen on autopsy like Alzheimer's.
  7. by   adrienurse
    It seems that I am all about neurological theories today LOL.

    Not claiming to be a neurologist, this would be my guess. You know the theory of how exposing a growing child to verious kinds of stimuli will encourage that child's brain to develop? Something about encouraging neuropathways to form. Well I think that living in a constant state of (clinical) depression (i.e. constant state of neurochemical imbalance) has got to have an opposite effect. Neuropathways are disused and therefore may be damaged. Also depression does not only refer to mood, clinacal depression is a form of CNS depression so chronic disuse of the brain has got to have some sort of atrophic effect.

    Now, looking at it from the Dementia point of view. Have you ever heard of "learned helplessness"? This is the theory that not allowing a person with dementia (or any other neorological condition) to function at his/her potential, causes that person to permanently lose the ability to walk, or talk, or be able to perform ADLs on themselves. There must be a neurological explanation to this.
  8. by   luv-my-dal
    Thank you, dianah, P_RN, oramar and adrienurse for your comments.

    I am continuing to look into it and will post any info I find in case anyone else is interested.

    I agree with you adrienurse, there must be some kind of connection.
  9. by   dosamigos76
    Awesome question. I wish there was more research in this particular field. With us baby-boomers getting older, I imagine that there will be.
  10. by   debalina
    hi all- here's my take on the subject. Our brains as well as our bodies,are one big chemical factory. when it comes to our brains, chemicals can be messed up only for so long before it changes our behavior or sense of self.This is what makes us human. when these chemicals get off kilter-for whatever reasons-that's when you see depression,anxiety,bipolar ,dementia ,parkinsons etc,etc.sometimes the chemicals aren't made or stored properly,or not doing the jobs of protecting those ever important synapses. Then you also have the SOBS-stressed out brain syndrome. Our "noodles" can only take so much stress (genetic)before it gets out of wack. When you think of it this way, it is easier to understand that all of these are related, and explains the clustering of problems. so now that I've spewed my thoughts on the subject,I think I'll get back to work...See ya!
  11. by   yannadey
    luv-my-dal definitly not a silly question its more thought provoking. makes me go Mmmm...... this will have me doing research(internet, books bugging Drs.)....but adrienurse & debalina have posted quite interesting view points.
  12. by   Chie
    Hi!
    Can you give me some advice what type of exams do College of Nurses of Ontario gives and what study materials should i take. I'm new here in Canada and just got my permission to take the exams. Thank you for any help.
  13. by   passing thru
    I learned something a while back that I hadn't known before.
    I was reading a patients' chart about the patient having multi-infarct dementia. I was asking the doctor about it.

    He said, people with high blood pressure -- who are poorly controlled-- do not take their medicine--lose weight-- exercise,

    suffer little TIA's.....some docs call these lacunar infarcts.

    Anyway, frequently the patient is not even aware....they show up on MRI's...

    Anyway, over a period of years, a decade or two,.......
    the patient gets a bit ditzy and goes to the doctor......
    at the familys' urging..............................

    Many are diagnosed with alzheimers or early alzheimers....

    The bottom line being......... ANY kind of injury to the brain
    predisposes us to alzheimers.

    I have read that in several articles.....

    car wrecks, head injuries, TIA's , alcohol overdoses, etc.

    But this is a definite and proven link between hypertension and
    alzheimers..........
  14. by   Gampopa
    In our Anatomy class last fall we were required to do a paper and I chose one on depression and altered brain function due to ischemia. Here's some of the references, the best one being #5. Basically their study supported the hypothesis that vascular disease in the elderly predisposes, precipitates, and perpetuates depression. It also suggests that depression in the elderly may be viewed as a potentially treatable consequence of cerebrovascular disease.

    1 Koenig, HG., George, LK., Peterson, BL. and Pieper CF., Depression in medically ill hospitalized older adults: prevalence, characteristics, and course of symptoms according to six diagnostic schemes
    Am J Psychiatry 1997: 154: 1376-1383

    2 Conwell, Y. Suicide in Elderly Patients, in Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression in Late Life, Edited by Schneider, LS., Reynolds, CF., Lebowitz, BD.; Washington D.C., American Psychiatric Press, 1996

    3 Rabbins, PV., Pearlson, GD., Aylward, E., Kumar, AJ., and Dowell, K. Cortical magnetic resonance imaging changes in elderly inpatients with major depression Am J Psychiatry 1991: 148:617-620

    4 Nebes, RD., Reynolds, CF. 3rd, Boada, F., Meltzer, CC., Fukui, MB., Saxton, J., Halligan, EM., and DeKosky, ST. Longitudinal increase in the volume of white matter hyperintensities in late-onset depression. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2002 Jun;17(6):526-30

    5 Thomas, AJ., O'Brian, JT., Davis, S., Ballard, C., Barber, R., Kalaria, RN., and Perry, RH., Ischemic Basis for Deep White Matter Hyperintensities in Major Depression: A Neuropathological Study Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59:785-792

    6 Kalayam, B., Alexopoulos, GS. Prefrontal dysfunction and treatment response in geriatric depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999;56:713-718

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