Currently, 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia – here in the US. By 2050, that number is expected to balloon to 14 million.
When a person first receives the diagnosis, a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions move through them. It’s only natural to experience stress and anxiety about the coming changes. Some also experience depression, especially in the early and middle stages of the disease.
Sometimes it can be difficult determining whether your loved one is showing dementia-related symptoms or if it’s a sign of depression. Both include:
- Mood changes
- A shift in personality
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Sleep changes
- Impaired concentration
- Memory problems
However, studies are showing that people with dementia experience depression differently than those without.
With dementia patients, depression symptoms tend to be less severe. That’s what makes depression in dementia patients so difficult to detect.
One of the biggest indicators is social withdrawal. If a person starts to pull away, isolates themselves into a room, and stops being interested in things they normally showed interest in, that may be a sign of something more.
Even doctors have trouble distinguishing the two conditions because of the amount of overlap. Yet if you suspect changes, it’s important to discuss them with your loved one’s doctor as quickly as possible to find the best course of treatment, which can include both prescription and non-drug approaches.
Love and support are often the best way to deal with every situation. As a caregiver, if you question any changes in your loved one’s behavior, talk to their doctor as soon as possible. Knowledge is everything.