Which Severe Mental Illnesses Most Increase the Risk of Developing Dementia? Comparing the Risk of Dementia in Patients with Schizophrenia, Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.

Publication date: Aug 31, 2023

Previous studies have shown that certain severe mental illnesses (SMIs) increase the risk of dementia, but those that increase the risk to a greater degree in comparison with other SMIs are unknown. Furthermore, physical illnesses may alter the risk of developing dementia, but these cannot be well-controlled. Using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (MDD) were recruited. We also recruited normal healthy subjects as the control group. All subjects were aged over 60 years, and the duration of follow-up was from 2008 to 2015. Multiple confounders were adjusted, including physical illnesses and other variables. Use of medications, especially benzodiazepines, was analyzed in a sensitivity analysis. 36,029 subjects (MDD: 23,371, bipolar disorder: 4,883, schizophrenia: 7,775) and 108,084 control subjects were recruited after matching according to age and sex. The results showed that bipolar disorder had the highest hazard ratio (HR) (HR: 2. 14, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1. 99-2. 30), followed by schizophrenia (HR: 2. 06, 95% CI: 1. 93-2. 19) and MDD (HR: 1. 60, 95% CI: 1. 51-1. 69). The results remained robust after adjusting for covariates, and sensitivity analysis showed similar results. Anxiolytics use did not increase the risk of dementia in any of the three groups of SMI patients. SMIs increase the risk of dementia, and among them, bipolar disorder confers the greatest risk of developing dementia. Anxiolytics may not increase the risk of developing dementia in patients with an SMI, but still need to be used with caution in clinical practices.

Concepts Keywords
Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepine
Schizophrenia Bipolar disorder
Taiwan Dementias
Major depressive disorder


Type Source Name
disease MESH Mental Illnesses
disease MESH Dementia
disease MESH Schizophrenia
disease MESH Major Depressive Disorder
disease MESH Bipolar Disorder
disease MESH Suicide
drug DRUGBANK Benzodiazepine

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