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Original research
Trauma and depressive symptomatology in middle-aged persons at high risk of dementia: the PREVENT Dementia Study
  1. Karen Ritchie1,2,3,
  2. Isabelle Carrière1,
  3. Sarah Gregory2,
  4. Tam Watermeyer2,4,
  5. Samuel Danso2,
  6. Li Su5,
  7. Craig W Ritchie2,
  8. John T O'Brien5
  1. 1U1061 Neuropsychiatry, INSERM, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France
  2. 2Centre for Dementia Prevention, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Institut du Cerveau, Paris, France
  4. 4Department of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  5. 5Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Prof Karen Ritchie, U1061 Neuropsychiatry, INSERM University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France 34093; karen.ritchie{at}


Objective Depression and trauma are associated with changes in brain regions implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The present study examined associations between childhood trauma, depression, adult cognitive functioning and risk of dementia.

Methods Data from 378 participants in the PREVENT Dementia Study aged 40–59 years. Linear and logistic models were used to assess associations between childhood trauma, depression, dementia risk, cognitive test scores and hippocampal volume.

Results Childhood trauma was associated with depression and reduced hippocampal volume but not current cognitive function or dementia risk. Poorer performance on a delayed face/name recall task was associated with depression. Childhood trauma was associated with lower hippocampal volume however poorer cognitive performance was mediated by depression rather than structural brain differences.

Conclusion Depressive symptomatology may be associated with dementia risk via multiple pathways, and future studies should consider subtypes of depressive symptomatology when examining its relationship to dementia.

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  • KR and IC are joint first authors.

  • Twitter @Craig_ritchie68

  • Contributors KR designed the study and wrote the original draft of the manuscript, JTOB, LS, SD, TW, CWR and SG commented on and added to the discussion sections. IC assisted in the design of the study, carried out the statistical analyses and the writing of results.

  • Funding The Prevent Dementia Study has been funded by the UK Alzheimer Society Grants no. 178, 264.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval NHS Research Ethics Committee London Camberwell St-Giles (REC reference: 12/LO/1023).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are made available to all researchers subject to approval by the Prevent Dementia Steering Group.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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