Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dementia and Depression


There is a close connection between dementia and depression -- both medical conditions have to do with a dysfunctional mind.

Loss of memory may lead to depression. The human brain performs thousands of tasks, and we are usually unaware of most of them. Patients with dementia, due to brain damage, often become frustrated when they cannot perform simple daily chores they used to be capable of doing. This alone is enough to put many into a depression.

However, not all individuals suffering from dementia have depression, although those who have both dementia and depression will demonstrate improvement in their memory once their depression is treated. Accordingly, it is important to treat the symptoms of depression in those with dementia in order to give the patients better quality of life as well as their caregivers and family members an easier time to cope with their dementia problems.

One of the behavioral symptoms of dementia is social withdrawal -- a result of inability to respond and communicate with others, as well as a way of coping when things get too complicated for the dementia mind. In communication, sensory input is important. Persons with dementia may remember only partially what they have just heard, and thus their response represents only part of the message received. Defective communication only accentuates the sense of loss in those with dementia. The result is withdrawal -- which is also a common symptom of depression. It is, therefore, critical to determine if the individual has depression, or simply the symptoms of dementia. Other characteristic symptoms of depression include: weeping; weight loss; change of sleep patterns; fatigue; and preoccupation with health problems. Depression in individuals with dementia should be treated to avoid further strain on their memory loss problem.

In addition to the use of medications to relieve symptoms of apathy and listlessness in depression or dementia, keep the patient mentally and physically active. However, it is important to know the limits -- which means knowing the level of involvement and capability of involvement. Remember, small failures may have damaging, instead of beneficial, results on the dementia mind; likewise, repeatedly telling a depressive individual to snap out of a depression only engenders further frustration without facilitating the recovery.

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau


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