Friday, July 30, 2010

Depression vs. Dementia

We had another great Town Hall Forum on dementia diagonses yesterday at Lake San Marcos Resort's Convention Center in North County. In case you missed it, we'll be providing highlights in the next few posts.

Today's topic is recognizing the symptoms (and differences) of depression and dementia.

"Sometimes a very depressed individual will present as if they have serious memory loss, and sometimes people with Alzheimer's disease will get depressed," explained neurologist Michael Lobatz, who is the medical director of the Rehabilitation Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas. He's featured in the photo above from the all-morning forum.

Here are just some of the differences:

The onset of depression is abrupt.
The onset of dementia is gradual.

The person with depression is usually aware something's wrong.
The person with dementia at least initially is unaware.

Memory impairment in depression is due to lack of motivation and concentration.
Memory impairment in dementia is due to an inability to remember, no matter how hard someone tries.

Someone with depression appears emotionally sad.
Someone with dementia appears emotionally "shallow."

The depressed person shows no concern for appearance.
The dementia person is interested, but dresses inappropriately.

Early signs someone may be starting to experience the early stages of dementia include impairment of their:

  • language

  • short-term memory

  • visual perception

They also may experience:

  • signs of depression, anxiety or agitation

  • changes in their behavior or personality

  • obsession with a subject

Up Next: Recognizing the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease