Abstract: The relationship between delusions and depression in Alzheimer’s disease

Objectives: The aim of this investigation was to study the relationship between delusions and depression in Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Design: This was a cross-sectional, case control study.

Setting: Neuropsychiatry Service, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA.

Participants: 303 community-residing patients with probable AD according to NINCDS/ADRDA criteria were included in the study. Seventy-five patients with delusions only were compared to a control group of 228 patients who had neither delusions nor hallucinations. Patients with only hallucinations or both delusions and hallucinations were excluded.

Measures: Patients were assessed clinically for the presence of delusions using the DSM-IV glossary definitions. They were also rated on standardized measures of depression, cognitive impairment, staging of dementia, general medical health, and functional impairment.

Results: There was an association between delusions and depression among patients with AD. Before adjustment for other variables, the presence of depression conferred a 1.8-fold (95% confidence intervals (CI) = 1.0-3.1; p = 0.04) higher risk of delusions. After adjustment for multiple other variables, this risk increased further to 6.8-fold (95% CI = 2.1-21.6; p = 0.001).

Conclusions: Delusions in AD are strongly associated with depression after statistical adjustment for all confounding variables, which might distort this association. This finding has implications for our understanding of the etio-pathogenesis and management of delusions and depression in AD

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