Link Identified Between Pandemic Anxiety and Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease

A study led by the Barcelona Beta Brain Research Center (BBRC), research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, has discovered a possible link between symptoms of anxiety and depression during covid-19 confinement and Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, which has been published in the journal ‘Neurology’ of the American Academy of Neurology, has analyzed the negative impact of confinement by the pandemic on mental health in cognitively healthy individuals.

The study has involved 921 participants of the ALFA Study promoted by the ‘La Caixa’ Foundation and has pointed out that the risk markers for Alzheimer’s, such as the amyloid beta protein or neuroinflammation, are related to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression during confinement.

Researchers have studied through multivariate analysis regression models the association between the Alzheimer’s disease-related biomarkers. and sociodemographic factors, as well as the results of the questionnaire of the hospital anxiety and depression HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) performed during confinement and before.

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In an earlier assessment, most of the study participants had. standard levels of anxiety and depression. and, in contrast, during confinement the 16,6% of the participants suffered increased anxiety, while a 9.9% reported depressive symptoms.

During the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, there is an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression that may accelerate disease progression.

Symptoms

Added to this fact is the fact that, during the pandemic, these symptoms have increased on a global scale, with long-term consequences for the mental health and cognitive impairment of vulnerable groups.

“In this context, it was relevant to investigate the possible association between the anxiety and depression symptomatology. during covid-19-derived confinement, and biomarkers of the Alzheimer’s disease.” Müge Akinci, BBRC researcher and lead author of the study, explained.

The research has also explored the role of stress and changes in the Lifestyle during this period of the pandemic, in addition to other sociodemographic factors of caregivers.

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The following have been observed differences between men and women relating to hours of sleep during confinement and in food consumption, as well as differences between caregivers and noncaregivers.

Anxiety and depression pose an increased risk for developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, and the prevalence of these symptoms observed in this study has been higher among women.

“In general, the results support the link between the neuropsychiatric symptomatology and the beta-amyloid load in the brain in the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s, especially in the case of women,” explained Dr. Eider Arenaza-Urquijo, researcher of the study and team leader at the BBRC.

The research has also involved the collaboration of the University of Gotheburg, the Hong Kong Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Pompeu Fabra University, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute and CIBER de Fragilidad y Envejecimiento Saludable (CIBERFES), among others.

The findings of this study open the door to future research on the consequences of the pandemic on the mental health and clinical prognosis of people in the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

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