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Depression is common among older adults. Individuals with late-life depression (LLD) show persistent cognitive impairment and are at a higher risk of developing dementia. The cause of depression is reported to be complex and multi-factorial, involving interactions between biological, psychological and social factors. At present, the underlying mechanisms of LLD are not fully understood and no reliable objective test is available for early and accurate diagnosis. The current project aims to identify a range of biological markers that characterise LLD and the associated cognitive impairment, by analysing existing genetics and neuroimaging data from longitudinal ageing studies at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, University of New South Wales. It will also investigate whether profiles of these biological markers differ between those who have and have not experienced early traumatic life events. It is expected that the findings will help improve our current diagnostic classification of LLD, which can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, and may prevent the development of cognitive impairment or decline in some cases. This study will also help further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of LLD as well as the relationship between LLD and cognitive decline.
Ms Tsang is a PhD candidate based in the School of Psychiatry and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), University of New South Wales. She began her PhD in early 2014.
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