Many people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from depression. This can be due to many reasons, not all of them connected to the Alzheimers disease problem. In the early stages of the disease, the sufferer is usually aware that they have memory impairment and this can often leave them confused and frightened about their future. Since Alzheimer’s disease is such a terrifying illness, the knowledge of what their future may hold can often lead sufferers to the first steps of depressive disease.
Depression can be an early symptom of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and very often a doctor doesn’t recognize a type of dementia that has been caused by depressive disease. However, the symptoms of depression are usually recognizable when they cause dementia-type illnesses.
It is important memory loss in an older person is not automatically assumed to be Alzheimer’s disease as depressive illness can often mimic the symptoms. Alternatively, if a person does have both Alzheimer’s disease and depression, the depression can often be treated and their overall condition improved at least for a while.
There is a lot of research being conducted into mental illness including depression. Researchers are not sure why we develop depressive illness, but it is thought to be linked to changes in the brain. If these changes could be identified, then there is the possibility that a cure could be discovered for some depressive diseases.
Some people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease often display symptoms of depressive illness. These can include tearfulness, hopelessness, decreased appetite, restlessness, and a reluctance to become involved in activities they have previously enjoyed. They can also show symptoms of apathy including prolonged periods spent sleeping.
- Classic symptoms of Alzheimers depression
Crying and feelings of worthlessness are also classic symptoms of depression, and if the person is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well, they may refuse or be unable to assist in their self-care such as washing or getting dressed.
There may also be noticeable decreases in other skills such as language, (especially if English isn’t their first language), and particular motor skills. A person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may often wander from their home because they have forgotten where they live.
If symptoms such as these persist, then this is a good indication that the person is suffering from some type of dementia which can include Alzheimer’s disease or multi-infarct dementia.
If depression is diagnosed by a doctor, antidepressant medication may be prescribed. Medications such as these are useful for those suffering from depression and Alzheimer’s disease. You should find the symptoms of depression such as sadness and apathy will fade whilst the appetite and difficulty to sleep will improve.
It is also advisable to keep a daily routine for the sufferer. Loud noises and overstimulation should be avoided if possible and the environment kept pleasant and tranquil. Ensuring the sufferer’s personal belongings surround them also helps to soothe fears and anxieties.
The person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease should also be encouraged to continue with everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and gardening for as long as possible, though this may need to be done under supervision. Allowing a person to remain as independent for as long as they are able will go a long way to assisting them in keeping their spirits up and depression at bay.