Is There a Link Between Dementia and Depression?
Dementia and depression are both conditions that affect our brains; however, is there more of a link between the two? Science is saying there is. Alzheimer’s Association states that up to 40 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s also suffer from depression; this particularly concerns those in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s. Is depression a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease? In fact, numerous studies propose that depression may actually be a risk factor for dementia.
What are the Symptoms of Dementia?
When dealing with a person that is already confused and mentally impaired, it may be difficult to notice depression symptoms. A person who is dealing with memory loss and has trouble communicating will not be able to say that they are depressed. This is why it is often up to the caregiver to monitor for signs of depression. Depression and Alzheimer’s have many common symptoms, according to Alzheimer’s Association, which are:
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Trouble concentrating
- Impaired thinking”
The good news is that depression in Alzheimer’s patients is often less severe and doesn’t last as long as for others. However, it is just as important to seek help for depression so it doesn’t become worse.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
Many tests for depression rely on communication with the patient, which is clearly problematic for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, The National Institute of Mental Health modified depression screening tests to rely less on verbal answers and focus more on irritation and a preference for solitude.
A person with Alzheimer’s will be diagnosed with depression if they show signs of depression (hopelessness, sadness and pessimistic), and show an apathy or loss of interest in activities once important to them. Additionally, they must exhibit at least two of these signs for two weeks or more, according to Alzheimer’s Association:
- “Social isolation or withdrawal
- Disruption in appetite that is not related to another medical condition
- Disruption in sleep
- Agitation or slowed behavior
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, or inappropriate or excessive guilt
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide plans or a suicide attempt?”
Does Depression Cause Alzheimer’s?
While depression is clearly linked to Alzheimer’s, does it cause it? Robert S. Wilson, PhD, a professor of neuropsychology at Rush University in Chicago, states to Everyday Health that depression should be treated as an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Another study found that only dementia that worsens with time and progresses into old age causes Alzheimer’s. This study was done on 3,000 people aged 55 and over in Netherlands, and found that depression that progresses causes dementia, but chronic and other types of depressions don’t follow this pattern.
We still don’t have a definitive answer on what causes Alzheimer’s, but doctors and scientists are trying to find a cure. If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, consider enrolling in a California pharmaceutical study. Your participation will not only be compensated, but can help find a cure for this condition. For more information, contact Pacific Institute at (310) 208-7144 or go online.