The Edith Cowan University group examined 460 WA adults and found that people over 65 who exhibited signs of depression were more likely to suffer from memory problems.
Hamid Sohrabi from ECU�s Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer�s Research and Care said the research laid the groundwork to develop a new screening test for cognitive decline caused by psychiatric comorbidities such as depression.
�We found that the signs of depression begin well before the symptoms of dementia begin manifesting,� he said.
�Our findings confirm there is a core group of symptoms that may enable us to differentiate between |people at risk of developing dementia and normally ageing individuals.�
Dr Sohrabi said therapies developed to treat depression could be useful in preventing, or slowing, the cognitive decline in elderly people.
�About half of all incidences of Alzheimer�s disease are associated with genetic risk factors,� he said.
�This research will help us to screen the other half who do not possess these genetic risk factors for dementia including Alzheimer�s disease.�
�Therapeutic interventions could take the form of antidepressant drugs as well as encouraging lifestyle changes that help combat depression such as exercise, getting enough sleep and social interaction.�