People suffering from depression may have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. This is according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

In the past, depression has been linked to numerous other disorders. Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that depression doubles the risk of stroke in middle-aged women.

But researchers from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan say their research suggests that depression is an independent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease – a progressive disorder of the nervous system.

For the study, the researchers conducted an analysis of the medical records of 23,180 participants over a 10-year period. Of these, 4,463 patients had depression and 18,533 patients were controls.

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Researchers say that people suffering with depression have a 3-times higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, compared with those without depression.

The researchers looked at the patients’ risk of Parkinson’s over the study period, using a logistic regression model to identify risk factors in patients who were depressed.

Additionally, the researchers looked at patients’ risk of Parkinson’s, excluding those who were diagnosed with the disorder within 2 or 5 years following their diagnosis of depression.

Their findings revealed that over the 10-year follow-up period, 66 patients (1.42%) with depression were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, alongside 97 patients (0.52%) without depression.

The results showed that after adjusting for age and sex, patients suffering from depression were 3.24 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, compared with those without depression.

After excluding patients who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 2 or 5 years after diagnosis of depression, patients with depression still showed a “higher hazard ratio” for developing Parkinson’s, compared with the control patients.

However, Dr. Albert Yang, attending psychiatrist at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and study author, told Medical News Today that not every depressed individual should worry about developing Parkinson’s:

The main finding is that we found depression posed a long-term risk of Parkinson’s disease. In particular, people with old age depression and difficult-to-treat depression are at higher risk of developing Parkinson’s.

These results suggest that certain populations of depressed people should be alert. For example, having new onset of depression in older age is a red flag for neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s.”

The researchers note that further population-based prospective studies with longer-duration observation are needed in order to further investigate the link between depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Medical News Today recently reported on a study suggesting that the severity of Parkinson’s disease is linked to brain inflammation.