Depression

Depression often coincides with dementia and needs to be treated whenever it arises. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood
  • Loss of interests or pleasure
  • Fatigue or low energy

Although occasionally everyone experiences these states, if they last over two weeks, it is necessary to consult a doctor. People with depression may also have trouble sleeping, have difficulty concentrating or making decisions and have poor appetite. They exhibit low self-confidence, have feelings of guilt or self-blame, be agitated or, conversely, show slowing of movements. It may happen that a person who seems to show signs of dementia actually suffers from depression. Also, a person may experience depression as a consequence of a dementia disease. It is therefore necessary for a psychiatrist or neurologist to examine the problems in order to deliver a correct diagnosis.

Cognitive impairment present in dementia often influences a person’s ability to express feelings associated with depression. This is why depression in people with dementia may be different than in the general population. The symptoms may come and go and talking about or attempting suicide is less likely. However, depression may increase dementia symptoms, so relieving it’s symptoms may lead to better cognitive functioning.

Depression can occur with, for example, fronto-temporal dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. To find out more about the diseases, click here.

In the early stage of dementia depression can by treated with psychological therapy. Effective treatment is also available in the form of anti-depressants.

Good advice for handling depression:

  • Encourage the person to meet with other people he/she likes to spend time with.
  • Try to help with routines to avoid the person becoming passive.
  • Find a way to include the person in family activities so that his/her contributions are appreciated.
  • Initiate a suitable activity that you can both enjoy.
  • Make sure the person eats and drinks enough.

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