How Depression and Dementia are Linked

Dementia refers to a decline in cognitive functioning that goes beyond normal aging. With dementia, there can be a big impact on somebody’s attention, memory, and communication abilities. Because of this, dementia is often accompanied by changes in mood. As somebody begins to lose their memory, have trouble socializing, and finds it harder to complete everyday tasks, depression can be a real risk. 

Is Depression a Risk Factor for Dementia?

Research suggests that suffering from depression earlier in your life can be a risk factor for dementia later on. However, the research into this is still ongoing. In 2020, a study in Sweden found that people who were diagnosed with depression were more likely to develop dementia. The highest risk was at around twenty years after being diagnosed with depression. 

Depression as a Symptom

Some people with dementia will develop depression. If you are worried for the mental health of your loved one, it can help to move them to a facility where they can get the ongoing care and support that they need, such as this memory care facility Webster Groves. Depression is quite a common symptom of dementia, as the symptoms can have an impact on the person’s emotions and mood as they try to navigate the cognitive changes they are going through. Many symptoms of dementia also overlap with symptoms of depression, such as isolating oneself from others, feeling down and hopeless, problems with concentration and memory, and losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed. 

Treating Depression with Dementia

It can be a complicated process to treat depression in somebody who has dementia. People with dementia tend to have more trouble focusing, conversing and remembering things, which can make traditional treatment options like talk therapy difficult. Along with this, antidepressant medication is often not effective when it comes to treatment of depression in people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a review of studies in 2019. In most cases, lifestyle changes, and the support of family, friends and caregivers is the most effective option. 

Improving Symptoms by Managing Dementia

While there is currently no cure for dementia, there are some ways to manage this condition that can help with improving quality of life and ease the symptoms of depression. There are some medications, known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, that can slow down the progression of dementia. Along with this, getting support from caregivers and loved ones is often essential to helping somebody with dementia thrive. You can help by ensuring that your loved one is able to maintain their independence for as long as possible, supporting with personal care and everyday activities, encouraging activities that are socially and mentally stimulating, and managing other health conditions that might have an impact on how they feel. 

It’s clear to see that there is a link between depression and dementia. Not only can depression be a risk factor for dementia, but it is also a common condition. If you are worried about a loved one, then your support of them can be vital in helping to manage symptoms.