Older patients with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms. A total of 1111 participants, mean age 71 years, mostly Caribbean Hispanic, stroke-free, older adults, had baseline measures of depressive symptoms. All had brain scans, a psychological exam and assessments for memory and thinking skills. Their memory and thinking skills were tested again an average of five years later.
At baseline, 22% of participants had greater depressive symptoms. These symptoms were significantly associated with worse baseline episodic memory in models adjusted for sociodemographic, vascular risk factor, behavioral, and anti-depressive medication variables. The symptoms were also associated with smaller cerebral parenchymal fraction and increased odds of subclinical brain infarcts, after adjustment for sociodemographic, behavioral, and vascular risk factor variables.