As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: April 18, 2012
by Dementia Today:
What is depression?
When doctors talk about depression, they mean the medical illness called major depression. Someone who has major depression has symptoms like those listed below nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer. There is also a minor form of depression that causes less severe symptoms. Both have the same causes and treatment.
If you’re depressed, you may also have headaches, other aches and pains, digestive problems and problems with sex. An older person who has depression may feel confused or have trouble understanding simple requests.
Symptoms of depression
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a brain disorder caused by damage of the brain cells that makes it hard for people to remember, learn and communicate. These changes eventually make it hard for people to care for themselves. Alzheimer’s disease may also cause changes in mood and personality.
Do people who have Alzheimer’s disease become depressed?
Yes. Depression is very common among people who have Alzheimer’s disease. In many cases, they become depressed when they realize that their memory and ability to function are getting worse.
Unfortunately, depression may make it even harder for a person who has Alzheimer’s disease to function, to remember things and to enjoy life.
How can I tell if my family member who has Alzheimer’s disease is depressed?
It may be difficult for you to know if your family member is depressed. You can look for some of the typical signs of depression, which include the following:
Other signs of depression include crying and being unusually emotional, being angry or agitated, and being confused. Your family member who has Alzheimer’s disease may refuse to help with his or her own personal care (for example, getting dressed or taking medicines). He or she may wander away from home more often.
Alzheimer’s disease 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 relative who has Alzheimer’s disease, talk to his or her family doctor.
How can the doctor help?
The doctor will talk with your relative. The doctor will also ask you and other family members and caregivers whether the person has any new or changed behaviors. The doctor will check your relative and may wish to do some tests to rule out other medical problems. He or she may suggest medicines to help your family member feel better. The doctor may also have some advice for you and other family members and caregivers on how to cope. He or she may recommend support groups that can help you.
What medicines can help reduce depression?
Antidepressant medicines can be very helpful for people who have Alzheimer’s disease and depression. These medicines can improve the symptoms of sadness and apathy, and they may also improve appetite and sleep problems. Don’t worry — these medicines are not habit-forming. The doctor may also suggest other medicines that can help reduce upsetting problems, such as hallucinations or anxiety.
What can I do to help my family member?
Try to keep a daily routine for your family member who has Alzheimer’s disease. Avoid loud noises and overstimulation. A pleasant environment with familiar faces and things helps soothe fear and anxiety. Have a realistic expectation of what your family member can do.
Expecting too much can make you both feel frustrated and upset. Let your family member help with simple, enjoyable tasks, such as preparing meals, gardening, doing crafts and sorting photos. Most of all, be positive. Frequent praise for your family member will help him or her feel better — and it will help you as well.
As the caregiver of a person who has Alzheimer’s disease, you must also take care of yourself. If you become too tired and frustrated, you will be less able to help your family member. Ask for help from relatives, friends and local community organizations.
Respite care (short-term care that is given to the patient who has Alzheimer’s disease in order to provide relief for the caregiver) may be available from your local senior citizens’ group or a social services agency. Look for caregiver support groups. Other people who are dealing with the same problems may have some good ideas on how you can cope better and on how to make caregiving easier. Adult day care centers may be helpful. They can give your family member a consistent environment and a chance to socialize.
It is a devastating omission that may have undercut years of work by brilliant researchers from around the world. Millions of dollars and countless hours have been spent investigating dementia. But in the view of...
A stroll through the Dutch community of De Hogeweyk is a journey to what could be the future of dementia care. Located within the small town of Weesp, just outside of Amsterdam, De Hogeweyk is...
Intimate-partner violence (IPV) is a pattern of physical and/or sexual violence inflicted by an intimate or ex-intimate partner. Global estimates published by the World Health Organization indicate that about 1 in 3 women have experienced...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.