Background: Cross-sectional studies have shown an association between vascular brain disease and depression. Longitudinal data are scarce. In a population-based study we investigated this relationship both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Methods: Brain MRIs were administered to 479 persons aged 60-90 years at baseline (1995-1996). Brain atrophy, white matter lesions and brain infarcts are all markers of vascular brain disease. At baseline and at follow-up examinations, we also identified persons with depressive symptoms and syndromes using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and psychiatric interviews. Medical records were continuously monitored to identify incident depression. Follow-up was complete until October 2005. Results: At baseline, 36 persons had depressive symptoms. Brain atrophy, white matter lesions, and infarcts were associated with presence of depressive symptoms. During follow-up, 92 persons developed depressive symptoms, 35 of whom were categorized as having depressive syndrome. There was no association of any MRI marker with incident depressive symptoms or syndromes. Conclusions: Markers of vascular brain disease were associated with depression cross-sectionally. However, when these markers and risk of depression were assessed longitudinally, no relationship was found.,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ikram, A., Luijendijk, H., Vernooij, M., Hofman, A., Niessen, W., van der Lugt, A., … Breteler, M. (2010). Vascular brain disease and depression in the elderly. Epidemiology, 21(1), 78–81. doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181c1fa0d