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The Relationship Between Depression and Dementia

Both depression and dementia are common mental health problems often experienced by the elderly. Up to 50% of patients with depression also experience some type of cognitive impairment, and as many as 68% of those suffering from dementia are also experiencing depression. While the relationship between the two conditions is far from fully understood, it is clear that the two conditions are often related.


Depression is a common, serious mood disorder that impairs a person’s life. There are many kinds of depression, and diagnosis can be tricky. Some of the major types of depression include:

  1. Persistent Depressive Disorder
  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder
  3. Bipolar Disorders
  4. Psychotic Depression

Symptoms of depression may include all or some of the following:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiousness, or emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Loss of interest in or pleasure from hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or helplessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or actual suicide attempts
  • Decreased energy level or fatigue
  • Irritability and short temper
  • Moving or talking much more slowly than usual
  • Feeling restless or having trouble staying still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping, waking up very early, or oversleeping regularly
  • Digestive problems or cramps without clear physical cause
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Aches or pains


Dementia is a severe loss of memory and other mental abilities that interferes with the ability to function normally in daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Depending on the specific type of dementia, some symptoms can be alleviated, or the progression slowed down with the proper treatment. some of the most common types of dementia include:

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  3. Parkinson’s Disease
  4. Huntington’s Disease
  5. Vascular Dementia
  6. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

What You Need to Know

The bottom line is that while we do not fully understand how dementia and depression are related ? think of it like the chicken or the egg scenario ? we do know that where one is present, you will often find the other. This means that if you or someone you care about suffers from any type of depression or dementia, you should be alert for symptoms that may indicate they are also suffering from some form of the other. And with new tests and treatment becoming available every year, neither condition is without hope. Your doctor is the best person to see to properly diagnose both of these medical problems – and they may refer you to a psychologist and/or psychiatrist to further evaluate and treat the specific disease(s) in order to gain the best result.



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