Alzheimer related depression

Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating and degenerative disorder that often robs both the sufferer and friends and family of emotional and physical reserves. This can leave both the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the caregiver with depression.

Interestingly researchers have found several links between the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the diagnosis of depression in older adults and their caregivers. In several studies scientists have found a link between people who have suffered a lifetime of major depressive disorder and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York the researchers did postmortem study of the brains of 44 people who had a lifetime history of depression and 51 people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimers but no diagnosis of depression.

What they found was that people who were depressed had more plaques and tangles in the brain (a key feature of Alzheimers), those with Alzheimers and depression showed a more marked and pronounced change in the hippocampus (part of the brain where tangles and plaques occur) and that those who had suffered with depression through most of their life had a more rapid decline into Alzheimers.

Alzheimer related depression has been found to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s but it is also is preventable and treatable. Researchers are currently investigating the possibility that with consistent treatment throughout their lives this can delay the onset of Alzheimers and thus increase the quality of life that these people can enjoy.

People who are already diagnosed with Alzheimers are at greater risk of developing depression, even if they’ve never experienced this psychological disorder before. The stress, both physically and emotionally, on a person who is suffering the signs and symptoms can take a huge toll on them leaving them with signs of depression that may be difficult to tell the difference between the depression and the Alzheimers.

People with a major depressive disorder will find they experience at least four or five of these symptoms:

  • Depressed mood
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Sleep problems insomnia, early morning awakening or sleeping too much
  • Significant weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Increased difficulty with concentration or ability to think
  • Feelings of excessive guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal feelings or attempts
  • Agitation or marked slowing of motor movements

Unfortunately these are also symptoms of Alzheimers and differentiating and treating the two can present challenges to the physician and family members.

There are medications that can be used to treat depression in people also suffering from Alzheimers that include SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy. Each of these options have their pros and cons that must be matched to the individuals specific situation.

Monitoring of medications falls to the responsibility of the caregiver, physician and home health care nursing because the person suffering these symptoms isn’t able to perform these tasks. Medication may trigger a psychotic episode. And the effectiveness does vary from person to person. The physician and psychiatrist will depend on the feedback of caregivers when assessing the effectiveness of the medication.

Some people with depression and Alzheimers dont respond to medications. In these cases electroconvulsive therapy may be tried to relieve symptoms of severe depression. This isn’t the procedure of decades ago but rather is more humane and less severe. Slight amounts of electricity are delivered to the brain for a few seconds to trigger a seizure under general anesthesia in a hospital. This option is used more in older adults than younger maybe because older adults have more side effects from antidepressants or have more severe complications from severe depression.

As men and women continue to age, extra efforts are needed to maintain a fit, active, and healthy body and mind. Still, even with this added effort, seniors experience some health issues that are distinctive to aging adults.

There are a number of physical age-related illnesses and conditions that seniors must bear in mind such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, incontinence, memory loss, sciatica and more. There are also psychological issues to deal with like depression, anxiety, mood swings, and even sleeplessness.

At Native Remedies you will find a comprehensive set of herbal remedies to help you manage and optimize your health – naturally and safely.

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About Dee Braun

Dee is an Adv. Certified Aromatherapist, Reiki Master, Adv. Color/Crystal Therapist, Herbalist, Dr. of Reflexology and single mom who is dedicated to helping others any way she can. One way she chooses to help is by offering information on the benefits and uses of natural health and healing methods for the well-being of both people and pets. Dee also teaches Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Color/Crystal Therapy at the Alternative Healing Academy

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2 Responses to Alzheimer related depression

  1. Engress October 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Wow..this is really sad that this can leave both the sufferer and caregiver both depressed. :( It is also terrible that a dually diagnosed person cannot be medicated sometimes. This sounds like a viscious set of conditions. At least the anti-depressants were found helpful in some of the younger people tested. ~Engress

  2. borderline syndrom October 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    People sufferring of Alzheimer’s disease is prone to suffer depression because they have difficulties in remembering who they are and the people they are living with. It is just so sad to see people suffering such disease. They really need some serious care.

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