History of Depression, Stress Tied to Alzheimers, MCI Risk


People with a history of depression or stress were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) later in life compared with those without either condition, a new study found.


  • Longitudinal cohort study of 1,362,548 people with records in the Region Stockholm administrative healthcare database with a diagnosis of stress-induced exhaustion (SED), depression, or both between 2012 and 2013.

  • Cohort followed for diagnosis of MCI or AD between 2014 and 2022.


  • SED diagnosed in 0.3%, depression in 2.9% and both SED and depression in 0.1%

  • Compared with people without SED or depression, AD risk was more than double in patients with SED (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.45; 99% CI, 1.22-4.91) or depression (aOR, 2.32; 99% CI, 1.85-2.90) and four times higher in patients with both SED and depression (aOR, 4.00; 99% CI, 1.67-9.58)

  • Risk for MCI was also higher in people with SED (aOR, 1.87; 99% CI,1.20-2.91), depression (aOR, 2.85; 99% CI, 2.53-3.22) or both SED and depression (aOR, 3.87; 99% CI, 2.39-6.27) vs patients with no history of SED or depression.

  • Only patients with depression had a higher risk for another dementia type (aOR, 2.39; 99% CI, 1.92-2.96).


“Future studies should examine the possibility that symptoms of depression and/or chronic stress could be prodromal symptoms of dementia rather than risk factors,” study authors write.


The study was conducted by Johanna Wallensten, doctoral student, Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues and funded by the Karolinska Institute. It was published online October 2, 2023 in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.


Use of a health care registry could have led to over- or under-estimation of depression, MCI and AD. The study probably captures most people with depression but not most people with depressive symptoms.


The authors reported no relevant conflicts.

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