Does depression precede dementia?

Does depression precede dementia?

Dementia is preceded by depression. After four years of research, 30 percent of those who would eventually acquire dementia showed signs of depression. Only 15% of individuals who did not get dementia went on to develop depression.

People who suffer from dementia experience many changes in their mood. They may become anxious or depressed even though they have never been diagnosed with mental illness before. As the disease progresses, these feelings often intensify. Dementia can also lead to aggressive behaviors and changes in appetite that require medical attention.

It is important for people to receive proper treatment if they are suffering from both dementia and depression. Both conditions can be cured or managed so that they do not cause each other to worsen. Cognitive therapy has been proven to help people with dementia improve memory and other cognitive abilities. Exercise and a healthy diet are also recommended to maintain health and reduce the risk of additional diseases arising from being sedentary and eating poorly.

People with dementia and their families should discuss future plans for caregiving. It is normal for those who love someone with dementia to feel afraid or sad about the future. However, not discussing these issues can lead to stress for everyone involved.

Depression is a common problem for people who live with dementia. If you are worried that a friend or family member is experiencing depression, ask them how they are doing emotionally.

How can you tell the difference between depression and dementia?

Depression progresses more quickly than dementia (dementia takes weeks or months to develop). Despite memory losses, persons suffering from depression will be able to recall things when questioned. Impaired judgment in those suffering from depression is typically caused by a loss of concentration. They may make poor decisions or act inappropriately given their circumstances.

Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of symptoms resulting from severe brain damage. The two most common types are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Symptoms include memory problems, confusion, difficulty communicating, behavioral changes, and decreased ability to function normally. Dementia can also lead to violence or suicidal thoughts.

The two conditions share many similarities, which is why it is difficult to diagnose and treat patients with dementia. Depression can occur as a result of dealing with the effects of dementia, such as communication problems and memory issues. It is also possible to have both diseases at the same time. Often doctors will prescribe antidepressants for people who suffer from dementia to help reduce anxiety and depression-related behaviors.

People with dementia are eight times more likely than the general population to commit suicide. About 20% of people with dementia will die by suicide. Because of this risk, doctors should monitor patients taking antidepressants for signs of worsening depression or other changes in behavior. If dementia symptoms get worse as a result, then an antidepressant should not be continued.

Is depression an early sign of Alzheimer's?

Depression and irritability may be the first signs of Alzheimer's disease. Depression and other behavioral changes may emerge before memory loss in elderly who get Alzheimer's disease. A new research raises as many concerns as it answers concerning dementia's early, non-cognitive signs. The study was published in August 2013 in the journal Neurology.

The study found that people who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that includes symptoms such as confusion, difficulty finding words, and problems with memory that are associated with the aging brain, were more likely to also meet clinical criteria for depression. People with MCI are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. In this study, 39% of those with MCI were found to be depressed. After one year, 60% of these individuals still met diagnostic criteria for depression. Those who were not depressed initially were less likely to develop depression over time.

"These findings suggest that depression should be assessed in patients with MCI," said lead author Dr. Eliana Aroni. She is a neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Currently, there are no treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent or delay the progression from MCI to dementia.

About Article Author

Colleen Fulton

Colleen Fulton is a woman who knows about health. She has had her own personal health challenges, but these challenges have made her appreciate her health even more. Colleen has a degree in biomedical science and she loves to study how the body works in order to help people live healthier lives.

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