With every passing day, it seems, we see more reasons why mental health should be taken more seriously. Evidence shows how massive its impact can be on other aspects of our overall well-being. A new study from the University of Sussex in England shows another reason to focus on improving your mental health: Researchers found a link between depression and premature aging of the brain.
The team reviewed a number of studies involving more than 71,000 participants, including people with just symptoms of depression and those who had a diagnosis of clinical depression. Their study looked at how this condition affected their cognitive state. The researchers found older adults who had a depression diagnosis performed worse on tests of decision-making, memory and processing new information when compared with older adults who had no signs of depression.
Older adults who were diagnosed with depression also were more likely to develop dementia over the course of the study, and to do so at a rate faster than others. The study explicitly excluded patients who were suffering from dementia or cognitive decline before the start of the analysis.
The authors stressed that those living with depression should not feel it’s inevitable their cognitive abilities will rapidly decline as they get older. Taking preventive measures such as exercising, practicing mindfulness and seeking out treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy all can support your well-being.
It’s never too late to push back against depression; you’ll get more enjoyment out of your life today, and you can protect your cognitive health for a better tomorrow.