Stats are greatly against us. On average, by the age of 70 our brain will be 15% lighter than it was in our 20s, beginning to deteriorate with aging damage in our 30s. Fifty is considered the new 30 in modern anti-aging circles. But when brain cell power yields way to younger ones as a result of age-related oxidation, cell death, plaque buildup, impaired blood flow, energy loss and other environmental and biochemical assaults, 50 becomes, well, just plain old. And depressing.
Brain cells don’t divide unlike those of the skin and other tissues. Generally, when cells divide and are in prime health, repair genes can actually make the next division healthier. The progenitor cells die off, too, leaving only the healthier nuclei of new cells behind. The cerebral cells simply have no second chance; they can’t improve their lot through the usual method. Damage control is more difficult and much more necessary.
Especially in older populations, dementia occurs in tandem with depression, leading scientists to surmise midlife blues are a form of brain damage.
The co-occurrence of depression and cognitive impairment doubles every five years after age 70, and by the time one is 85, the chances are 25% that one will be afflicted with depression and cognitive impairment that will adversely impact one’s life, say Guy G. Potter, PhD of the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina and David C. Steffens, MD, of the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington. â€œDepression is primarily a mood disorder, but it can also be viewed as a cognitive disorder for many older adults, they add.
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