If you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s you will undoubtedly worry about the signs and symptoms of their condition. You may wonder if what you are seeing is a symptom of Alzheimer’s or something else. Could symptoms such as poor concentration, difficulty sleeping, and social withdrawal be signs of Alzheimer’s or could there be another cause? The issue with such symptoms is that they can overlap with signs of depression. Depression among Alzheimer’s patients can be difficult to detect because the symptoms between these two conditions can be very similar. Not only that, depression can also be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease at certain stages. It is much akin to trying to find the beginning of a ball of twisted up yarn. Where do you begin to search for answers? In this post we are going to try to answer some of these questions about the association between Alzheimer’s disease and depression. In addition, we are going to give you a check list of possible early warning signs that your loved one with Alzheimer’s may also be suffering from depression.
How prevalent is depression among people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association as many as 40% of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from significant depression. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Disease Research program has identified depression as a possible symptom among patients with stage two Alzheimer’s. At this stage the Alzheimer patient is more aware of the loss and control associated with their disease. As a result they may become irritable, restless, withdrawn, and depressed.
Why is it important to recognize the early signs of depression in your loved one with Alzheimer’s?
One of the primary reasons to look out for signs of depression in your family member or loved one having Alzheimer’s is that depression is relatively common among those who have this disease but it is treatable. If you treat the depression early on, it will not have the chance to become entrenched and become a chronic problem. Treating your loved one’s depression will also give them a better chance to cope with their Alzheimer’s symptoms. The Mayo Clinic reports that untreated depression among Alzheimer’s patients can lead to a more rapid decline in cognitive functioning, greater overall disability in taking care of themselves, and an earlier placement in a nursing home. It is clear that depression can have a detrimental effect upon your loved one’s quality of life. This is why it is so important to recognize the signs of depression in your family member or loved one, and get them treated promptly.
Are there differences between the symptoms of depression among Alzheimer’s patients and those who do not have this disease?
The literature states several differences in depression in Alzheimer’s patients vs. those who do not have Alzheimer’s disease including: