Background: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a metabolic condition associated with poor clinical and cognitive outcomes including vascular disease, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, and dementia. In the general elderly population, depression has been consistently identified as a risk factor for cognitive impairment/decline. However, the association between depression and cognitive function in T2D has been understudied.
Objective: We investigated the association between depression and cognitive function in a large sample of cognitively normal elderly with T2D.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we examined 738 participants, aged 65–88 years old, enrolled in the Israel Diabetes and Cognitive Decline study. For each cognitive domain (Episodic Memory, Executive Function, Attention/Working Mem- ory, Language/Semantic Categorization) and Overall Cognition, multiple linear regressions assessed its association with depression (score greater than 5 on the 15-item version of the Geriatric Depression Scale [GDS]), adjusting for age, sex, and education.
Results: Depression (n = 66, 8.9%) was associated with worse performance on tasks of Executive Function (p = 0.004), Language/Semantic Categorization (p < 0.001), and Overall Cognition (p < 0.002), but not Episodic Memory (p = 0.643) or Attention/Working Memory (p = 0.488). Secondary analyses using GDS as a continuous variable did not sub- stantially change the results. Adjusting also for a history of antidepressant medication use slightly weakened the findings.
Conclusion: Significant associations of depression with several cognitive domains and Overall Cognition even in cognitively normal elderly with T2D, suggest that depression may have a role in impaired cognitive function in T2D, which may be attenuated by antidepressants.