MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Laura B. Zahodne, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow in the cognitive neuroscience division in the Department of Neurology and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain
Columbia University Medical Center.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Zahodne: Having more depressive symptoms early on in Alzheimer’s disease was associated with more rapid declines in the ability to handle tasks of everyday living, and this relationship was independent of cognitive decline.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Zahodne: Previous studies have shown that depressive symptoms are associated with more difficulties with thinking and daily activities. This study additionally shows that depressive symptoms herald not only more rapid declines in thinking, but also daily functioning, over time.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Zahodne: Although these findings are observational, they could suggest that providing mental health treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease might slow the loss of independence.
Additionally, when making a prognosis for an Alzheimer’s patient, clinicians should consider not only memory and thinking abilities, but also levels of depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Zahodne: Based on these findings, a question that should be explored in future research is whether intervention for depression can be demonstrated to slow cognitive decline, functional decline, and/or the progression of pathological changes in the brain.
Coupled Cognitive and Functional Change in Alzheimer’s Disease and the Influence of Depressive Symptoms.
Zahodne LB, Devanand D, Stern Y.
Cognitive Neuroscience Division, Department of Neurology and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and The Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2013 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]