Scientists Pinpoint Link between Depression and Memory Loss

Apr. 25, 2014

A recent report published by University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and School of Nursing researchers suggests that the relationship between depression and memory loss may be driven by a particular hormone called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1. The study found that people with lower cognitive ability were more likely to have higher depressive symptoms if they also had low levels of IGF-1. On the other hand, people with high levels of IGF-1 showed no link between depressive symptoms and memory loss.

depressionScientists know that depression influences memory retention in aging adults, but what is not known is how depression influences memory or vice-versa. Nor is it known if (and how) we could halt memory loss by treating depression.

Kathi L. Heffner, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Department of Psychiatry and Feng (Vankee) Lin, Ph.D, R.N., assistant professor at the School of Nursing investigated possible connections between memory, depression and IGF-1 levels in a sample of 94 healthy older adults. IGF-1 is a hormone that regulates growth, but it has also been shown to help with memory retention, especially among aging adults. The study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, points to IGF-1 as a potential candidate to ameliorate depression and possibly memory loss and warrants further studies.

Additional study authors include Julie Suhr, Ph.D., professor and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at Ohio University, and Stephanie Diebold, a medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Read more about the study here.