Recognizing and Responding to Depression in Dementia
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One-third of people living with dementia also experience depression. Treating symptoms of depression may be a protective factor and reduce cognitive decline in dementia. People suffering from depression experience sad mood, reduced energy, poor concentration, loss of interest, diminished activity and they are at risk for death by suicide. Screening instruments include the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Typical treatments include antidepressant medications, which may have limited efficacy; and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), which may heighten memory loss. Psychotherapeutic approaches, including cognitive–behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and supportive counseling can be helpful. Lifestyle modifications addressing healthy diet, exercise and the inclusion of enjoyable activities can promote improved quality of life. Providing needed education and support to caregivers, who often experience depression, anxiety and sleep disorders themselves is critical. This paper provides health professionals with an overview of approaches for recognizing and responding to co-occurring dementia and depression.
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