Today I thought I would address a common and important topic: how does depression show up in your loved one who is living with dementia. And what do you even do about it?
Depression in those living with dementia is quite common, and it especially shows up in folks who are in the early and middle stages of the disease. They’re still figuring out the changes, processing the losses that are happening, they’re in the present moment much more. They are coming to terms with the loss of everything that’s happening in their life. That’s huge. So much is happening, so many losses. Dementia is a disease of the loss of autonomy. What can be confusing is the symptoms of depression and dementia often overlap. Depression is one of the conditions that are ruled out in order to give a diagnosis of dementia. Quite often, treating depression in your loved one can improve overall symptoms.
So, how does it show up? What should you be looking for if you’re concerned that your loved one might have depression? So here are a few of them listed below. When looking at them, experiencing any one at any given time is normal, but if you are experiencing several at once, you should go talk with your doctor,
6 symptoms of depression in someone living with dementia
- Frequent crying
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Increased Agitation
- Changes in appetite or weight loss
- Changes in sleep patterns
Dementia with depression
Depression in someone living with dementia might show up differently than someone who is depressed but does not have a neurodegenerative disorder.
The disease process and cognitive impairments that are experienced by people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia often make it difficult for them to verbalize their thoughts, feelings and experiences. So, where as someone who does not deal with a neurodegenerative disease deals with depression, they’re more able to say, “I’m feeling off. I don’t feel good. I’m noticing I’m withdrawing. I don’t want to do this. I’m feeling sad. I’m feeling hopeless,” Someone living with dementia, may not be able to communicate or articulate what they are experiencing. It is important to notice behavioral changes and nonverbal cues.
(Grab my Dementia and Depression Ebook )
What do I do?
If you see some of these symptoms in your loved one, it is important that you get them checked out. So, you should–the first stop you should go to is the primary care doctor of your loved one. You are going to advocate and help by reporting what you are witnessing and your concerns. Especially if in the middle to later stages, they can’t identify what’s going on and, you’re the main reporter. If they’re in early stages, they can absolutely share their experience and your observations will support them in that. You as the caregiver might fill in the gaps to the things they might not even recognize they’re doing. The changes might have come as such a gradual decline that they don’t realize they haven’t been doing things that they love. They don’t realize that their mood has been more irritable and agitated or they’ve been crying more often.
Want more details? Head over to my YouTube channel and check out the video I made talking about dementia and depression at here.
Want to start applying what we talked about and have a reference guide? Grab my Dementia and Depression Ebook