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Alzheimer's Disease & Depression - How They Are Related?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Medicine, DM - Neurology
Neurologist, Gurgaon  •  13 years experience
Alzheimer's Disease & Depression - How They Are Related?

Depression is possibly regarded as the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. According to a research, the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and depression is very interesting. It has been found that the life of people who are suffering from dementia is affected in 2 different ways. Individuals who have suffered from depression in their lives are at a greater risk of developing dementia. It has also been observed that people suffering from dementia also have depression. The health condition should be treated immediately because if it is ignored it can damage the quality of life and result in worst conditions like memory loss. Temperament, as well as behavioral changes, may precede memory problems in people with the disease.

Risk factor of dementia
The significant risk factor for dementia or common form of Alzheimer’s is developing depression at a younger age. The other reasons for the link are not very clear, however, it has been speculated that the inflammation that occurs in depression is a contributing factor to the Alzheimer’s disease. The risk of dementia also increases with certain proteins which spiral with depression. The common signs of Alzheimer’s disease include lack of appetite, sadness, agitation, weight loss, and anxiety. People suffering from this condition are unable to tell if they are depressed, but their actions help in communicating a message. It is always better to seek the assistance of a physician as doctors can make use of tools to assess the neurological disorder.

Best way to treat patients with Alzheimer’s
The best way to treat patients suffering from dementia and who are depressed is to engage them in activities. It is important that they step out and do some exercises. They should go out in the sunshine. It is necessary to engage them in activities and conversations and help them to lead a higher quality of life. Some of the symptoms of dementia and depression are alike but not all of them. The major symptoms of depression include feeling tired most of the times, feeling restless, irritable, feeling worthless/guilty, unplanned weight gain and trouble in focusing. These symptoms often occur for more than 2 weeks or longer.

Difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s disease
In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, it becomes very difficult for the individual to communicate, learn or remember mainly because the damage is caused to the brain. Due to the brain damage, there is a possibility of changes in the personality and moods of individuals suffering from this health condition. The quality of life is affected by depression as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, it is always better to treat the condition immediately. For that reason, it is very important to set up a pleasant environment around and help patients suffering from this condition by helping them do enjoyable tasks and make them feel positive about life.

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