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Is Dementia Caused By Depression

Experiencing Both Dementia And Depression

How to Tell if It’s Depression or Dementia | Health

Older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing dementia and depression. To complicate things, they can also experience a combination of dementia and depression. This challenge may be one reason;why there have been reports of high rates of both false-positive and false-negative errors in the diagnosis of dementia.

So, how do you tell the difference between depression and dementia? One important factor is that people with depression might complain about their;memory, but they often do reasonably well on;mental status exams;and other tests that evaluate;cognitive;function.

On the other hand, those with;dementia;often deny any memory problems but don’t do as well on cognitive tests. Also, a depressed person is less likely to show severe mood swings, whereas someone with dementia shows a wider range of emotions and sometimes makes inappropriate emotional responses .

The Relationship Between Depression And Dementia In The Elderly

Several studies focused on clarifying the relationship between these two mental health conditions have shed some light on how depression might affect a persons risk for cognitive decline.

One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that the emergence of depressive symptoms in midlife, late life or both are associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, found a significant link between vascular dementia, Alzheimers and depression. The timing of the onset of depression appeared to be associated with different types of dementia.

For example, individuals whose depressive symptoms emerged in their 40s or 50s and persisted later in life were found to have more than a three-fold increase in the risk of developing vascular dementia. This type of dementia is caused by vascular injuries and/or disease within the brain. This study also found that individuals who presented depressive symptoms later in life were twice as likely as their non-depressed peers to develop Alzheimers.

Additional studies on the connections between vascular disease, depression and neurological changes in the brain have supported these findings.

Studies Continue To Shed Light On Dementia Causes Even As Debates Continue Here’s What Research Is Revealing About Depression As A Dementia Risk Factor

suggested that major and worsening depression in seniors may significantly raise the risk for dementia.

Dementia causes can be a mystery, but theres no doubt the condition is too prevalent. About 5.4 million Americans are thought to have some degree of dementia, and its destructive effects on our cognitive abilities come at huge cost to our overall wellbeingand that of our loved ones.

The decline in reasoning and memory that accompanies dementia impairs our ability to carry out everyday tasks, and impact on spousal and familial relationships, says Judith Neugroschl, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai. Many people with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their careit is the leading reason for placement of older adults in nursing homes.

What causes dementia remains unclear, although research points to a number of underlying conditions that may raise your risk, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and obesity. Another significant factor is depression.

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Association Between Depression And Suicide

It is no surprise that Williams would commit suicide due to his dementia, given the link between dementia and depression. Depression is one of the most common contributing factors to suicide.

The association between depression and suicide has been confirmed in hundreds of studies and pieces of research. According to the World Health Organization , about 121 million people are suffering from depression worldwide. These people are at a heightened risk of suicide. In fact, over 90% of people who commit suicide suffer from an underlying mental illness, like depression.

Different types of mental illness have varying risk factors when it comes to suicide. For instance, people suffering from bipolar disorder are 15 times more at risk of suicide than the general population. However, what is true of most forms of depression is that they all carry some sort of increase in the risk of suicide.

A study published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry found that the biggest factor in suicide risk was hopelessness. While there was a big link between depression and suicide, this link was less apparent when the researchers controlled for hopelessness. What this means is that while people with depression are more likely to commit suicide, having high levels of hopelessness can increase the risk.

While there is no cure for Lewy body dementia, there are many ways to fight off depression.

Depression And Dementia: Similarities And Differences

Is it dementia or depression?

Diseases often times mimic one another yet have distinct differences as well. This is no different with depression and dementia. Both can display the same symptoms, from lethargy to confusion, yet they have notable differences that define them. One can even mask the other. Add the hospice component to the equation and your loved ones symptoms may be compounded. The good news is that quality of life can be improved with proper treatment. If you are facing the need for hospice in San Francisco for your aging parent of other loved one who suffers from one or both of the above, Pathways Home Health and Hospice is here to help. Here we will discuss the similarities and differences between depression and dementia.

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Treating Depression Before Dementia

When you are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, it is important to treat it as soon as possible. Not only will you feel better, but you will reduce your chances of developing dementia, dying from suicide, or suffering from other age-related mental decline.

In fact, according to the Alzheimers Association, treating depression can actually help improve your memory and cognitive abilities. What many people may think to be the first signs of dementia could really just be symptoms of depression and may easily clear up with treatment. The following can all help treat depression:

  • Regular exercise
  • Active social engagement
  • Professional help from a psychiatrist or counselor

If cognitive symptoms, like memory loss or slowed thinking continue after treating your depression, then that could be an early sign of dementia and should be checked out by a physician. However, if they clear up as you treat depression; then you are likely in the clear.

Supporting Someone With Dementia Who Has Mental Health Problems

Its common for people with dementia to experience depression, anxiety or apathy . Alzheimers UK has information about how these problems might affect someone with dementia, and ways to support them and get them the right support and treatment.

Improving the mental health of someone with dementia can improve their overall quality of life, for example by helping them engage with friends and relatives, improving their appetite and sleep quality, and boosting their motivation.

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Path To Improved Health

From the outside looking in, it may be difficult to know if your family member is depressed. You can look for some of the typical signs of depression. Your loved one may become angry and agitated or lost and confused. They may refuse help with personal care, such as getting dressed or taking medicines.

Alzheimer dementia and depression have many symptoms that are alike. It can be hard to tell the difference between them. If you think that depression is a problem for your loved one who has Alzheimer dementia, talk to their doctor.

How Are Depression And Dementia Related

Grieving, Depression, and Dementia

As we work to unravel the mysteries of Alzheimers disease and other dementias, one of the more interesting areas of research is depression and its connection to dementia. It appears that depression impacts people living with dementia in at least two different ways. First, individuals who have had significant depression in their lives may be at greater risk for developing dementia. Second, many people living with dementia have depression; left untreated it makes confusion and forgetfulness worse, damaging quality of life.

Lets discuss both these aspects of depression and dementia.

A number of studies have suggested that there is a link between depression and dementia. It now appears that individuals with long histories of clinical depression have a greater risk for developing dementia.

Its important to note that a risk factor is something that is likely to increase the chances that a particular event will occur. Having a risk factor for Alzheimers disease doesnt mean that you will ever get Alzheimers disease; many people with histories of depression never get dementia.

What should an individual do if he or she has depression, particularly at a younger age? Common approaches include medicines and talk therapy. Many people with depression benefit from increased activity and socialization, including things like exercise, meditation, time with children and activities involving pets.


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Supporting A Person With Dementia Who Has Depression Anxiety Or Apathy

This page looks at the effects of depression, anxiety and apathy on a person with dementia, and suggests ways to support people with these conditions.

  • You are here: Supporting a person with dementia who has depression, anxiety or apathy
  • This page focuses on three psychological conditions depression, anxiety and apathy. These are known;as psychological conditions because they affect a persons emotional and mental health.

    Its common for people with dementia to experience these conditions. This page looks at how they can affect a person with dementia. This can be different to how they affect people who dont have dementia.

    This page describes therapies and treatments that can help a person with dementia who has one or more of these conditions. This includes day-to-day support that carers and other people can provide. It also includes non-drug treatments, such as talking therapies or psychological therapies, and explains the different types and how they can help.

    Be aware that sometimes a person with dementia may behave in a way that appears they have depression, anxiety or apathy even though they dont. There may instead be another reason for their behaviour they may be reacting to their environment or how they are being treated.For example:

    Caring For The Caregivers

    A final consideration regarding dementia and depression concerns care partners of people with dementia. Caregiving is a stressful responsibility and increases the risk of depression for the caregiver. One recent report found that more than two of every three caregivers scored high on a test of depression. The risk for depression was greater among caregivers who were older, or had attained a lower educational level, or had less support from other family members.

    Depression risk was also increased when the severity of dementia was greater in the care recipient. A healthier care partner will enjoy a better quality of life and will also have more to offer the care recipient.



    Asmer MS, Kirkham J, Newton H, et al. Meta-analysis of the prevalence of major depressive disorder among older adults with dementia. J Clin Psychiatry 2018;79. Pii: 17r11772. doi: 10.4088/JCP.17r11772.

    Kubo Y, Hayashi H, Kozawa S, et al. Relevant factors of depression in dementia modifiable by non- pharmacotherapy: a systematic review. Psychogeriatrics 2018 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12371.

    Bassiony MM, Warren A, Rosenblatt A, et al. The relationship between delusions and depression in Alzheimer’s disease. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Jun;17:549-56.

    Menon AS, Gruber-Baldini AL, Hebel JR, et al. Relationship between aggressive behaviors and depression among nursing home residents with dementia. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2001;16:139-46.


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    What Is Alzheimer Dementia

    Alzheimer dementia is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a group of symptoms that can be caused by brain damage. Alzheimer dementia makes it hard for people to remember, learn, and communicate. These changes eventually make it hard for people to care for themselves. It may also cause changes in mood and personality.

    Depression is very common among people who have Alzheimer dementia. In many cases, they become depressed when they realize that their memory and ability to function are getting worse. Together, depression and Alzheimer dementia can cause other symptoms. You may not want to go places or see people anymore. Your outlook and quality of life can suffer.

    Dementia Caused Robin Williams Suicide Not Depression Say Reports

    Recognising the symptoms of depression in dementia ...

    Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

    It wasnt depression that caused Robin Williams to commit suicide but rather dementia, according to an autopsy of his body and a statement from his wife.

    When Robin Williams committed suicide in August 2014, fans were shocked and horrified by his sudden death. There had been no indication that Williams was suffering from any major health problems and he had still been acting frequently. Following his suicide, many news organizationsand even Williams publicistblamed depression.

    However, it has since been revealed that Williams had been suffering from the second-most common type of dementia: Diffuse Lewy body dementia. The disease, which causes widespread mental and physical deterioration, had been causing worsening symptoms in Williams, until he finally chose to end his suffering. According to his wife, if Williams hadnt committed suicide, he would have only lived for about three more years.While Williams was suffering from depression, it was Lewy body dementia that drove him to his death. So why did everyone initially believe depression was to blame? There is actually a link between depression and dementia. They also can have many of the same symptoms. For many people in the initial stages of the disease, there could be little noticeable difference between their symptoms and those due to depression.

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    Depression Associated With Dementia With Lewy Bodies

    While depression is associated with dementia, further research has linked it specifically with the type of dementia Williams was suffering from.

    One of the symptoms of Lewy body dementia, particularly in the early stages, is depression. In the pre-stage of Lewy body dementia, people will suffer from depressive symptoms. However, this can be difficult to distinguish from regular depression.

    In a 2009 study published in the journal Psychogeriatrics, researchers studied older people with depressive symptoms to look for differences between regular depression and depression caused by Lewy body dementia. The researchers were able to find notable differences in symptoms, allowing for more accurate diagnoses of Lewy body dementia.

    The results of the study indicate that there are subtle differences between regular depression and that associated with Lewy body dementia. These differences can be very difficult to distinguish for anyone besides a trained medical professional.

    This could be the reason why many people, including Williams own publicist, initially believed his suicide was due to depression. In a lot of cases, older people who appear to be suffering from depression could actually be in the early stages of developing dementia. While there is some difference between depression and dementia symptoms, the two are often linked and very similar.

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    • Do depression and Alzheimer dementia run in families? Am I at risk?
    • What types of medicines treat depression and Alzheimer dementia? Are there any side effects?
    • Will depression go away?
    • Are there any lifestyle changes that help improve the symptoms?
    • Can you recommend a support group for people who have these conditions and their caregivers?

    Also Check: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s

    Depression Increases The Risk Of Alzheimers Disease

    Being depressed increases the risk of developing Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia, a new study reports. The study found that men and women with a diagnosis of depression were at increased risk of getting a dementia diagnosis, and the risk persisted even more than 20 years later.

    The study, in PLOS Medicine, consisted of two parts. In one, researchers in Sweden tracked nearly 120,000 men and women over 50 who had been diagnosed with depression, comparing them with peers who were not depressed. They followed them for up to 35 years, with an average follow-up time of more than 10 years.

    They found that Alzheimers disease or other forms of dementia developed in 5.7 percent of those who had depression, compared to just 2.6 percent of those who were not depressed. Dementia was particularly prevalent in the first year after a depression diagnosis: those with a depression diagnosis were more than 15 times as likely to develop dementia than their peers without depression. But even 20 years later, the risk of dementia remained elevated in those who had depression.

    For the second part of the study, the researchers studied more than 25,000 pairs of brothers or sisters, in which one sibling had depression and the other did not. They found that a sibling with depression was more than 20 times as likely to develop dementia than their brother or sister who was not depressed. Again, the risk remained elevated more than two decades later.

    Recognizing Depression Or Normal Memory Loss Vs Dementia And How To Tell The Difference

    Can dementia symptoms be caused by other factors like medications or other chronic conditions?

    May 23, 2017

    As we age, we sometimes get a little more forgetful.

    As we age, we sometimes get a little more forgetful. While most people understand that this is just a normal part of getting older, there are some who fear that forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimers disease or some other form of dementia. There has been a lot of research focused around aging and memory loss recently, and researchers have learned a lot about what is normal versus a more serious problem.

    Aging is not the only factor that contributes to memory loss, however. Many older adults develop memory problems as a result of health issues that may be treatable. These can include: side effects due to medications, vitamin deficiencies, substance abuse or possibly even reduced organ function due to thyroid, kidney or living disorders. These can be serious medical conditions and should be treated as soon as possible.

    In addition to the aforementioned medical issues which can precipitate memory loss or impairment, there is what seems to be the most common reason: depression. Depression in older adults has been as steadily growing problem, and emotional problems such as stress, anxiety or depression can and quite often do lead to forgetfulness, confusion and other symptoms that are similar to those of dementia.

    What is Dementia?

    How to Tell the Difference

    Alzheimers Association

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