(ANSA) – ROME, FEBRUARY 17 – Mental disorders could, over the years, open the doors to dementia. This is supported by a study coordinated by the University of Michigan and published in JAMA Psychiatry, which showed that people with mental problems have a 4 times greater risk of developing dementia in the course of life.
The evidence emerged in 30 years of observation (from 1988 to 2018) on a sample of 1,700,000 New Zealanders.
In these 30 years, 64,857 people (3.8%) were identified as having a mental disorder and 34,029 (2%) were diagnosed with dementia. However, the researchers noted that dementia was more common among individuals with a mental disorder. In particular, 6.1% of people diagnosed with a mental problem also received a diagnosis of dementia in subsequent years. Among people without mental disorders, diagnoses of dementia were 1.8%.
The data obtained from the study made it possible, therefore, to estimate a 4.24 times higher risk of developing dementia for people with mental problems. In particular, the risk was 2.7 times higher for Alzheimer’s disease and 5.8 times higher for other dementias. The onset of symptoms occurred, however, on average, 5.6 years earlier than in people without mental disorders.
“Mental health problems are not a sentence that always results in dementia,” said Leah Richmond-Rakerd of the University of Michigan, the first signer of the study, in a note. For the researchers, in fact, the results of the study should rather represent a push towards the prevention and treatment of mental disorders from early childhood, because this could improve people’s health and help prevent cognitive deterioration.
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