You might be surprised by how easy it is to confuse the symptoms of dementia with depression. Several of the symptoms of dementia are similar to those of clinical depression. However, it’s essential to be able to distinguish between the two. Both are serious illnesses. However, they are also very different and need to be treated differently. The changes in mood and personality that present with dementia can be confused for depression. Furthermore, depression can sometimes result in difficulty remembering things, which furthers the confusion. Being able to separate the two illnesses is vital, so take note of these helpful tips.
Understand the Symptoms
There are several ways the symptoms of depression and dementia cross over. However, by understanding how each illness manifests, doctors and others can distinguish between them. Some of the symptoms that may be confused include:
- Changes in mood or personality
- Memory problems
- Loss of motivation
- Struggling to make decisions or decreased judgement
However, depression is a mood disorder, while dementia is a cognitive illness. There are many differences between the symptoms of the two illnesses. These can be used to separate them. The symptoms of depression also include:
- Feeling unhappy or numb the majority of the time
- Anxiety or panic
- A sense of pointlessness and suicidal thoughts
- Struggling to do daily tasks
Some of the main symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss affecting daily life
- Language problems
- Struggling with abstract thinking
As you can see, although the symptoms of depression and dementia can be similar, there are many differences. Dementia can result in changes to someone’s mood and personality. However, memory problems and decreased capacity for thinking are two primary markers of dementia. Depression might feature these symptoms to some extent, but not in the same way as dementia does.
One of the ways to ensure dementia is diagnosed is to be aware of the risk factors. The primary one is age, but other factors include gender and genetics. There is a 1 in 4 chance of those over 85 years old having dementia. Other risk factors include medical problems such as diabetes, brain injuries, and heart problems. However, it’s important to watch out for the symptoms of dementia, even when the usual risk factors might not be present. For example, the person might be younger or have no family history of dementia.
The Importance of Dementia Diagnosis
Diagnosing dementia correctly is essential. It can be distinguished from depression, but even doctors can confuse them. Misdiagnosing or even ignoring the symptoms of dementia can be dangerous. If dementia remains undiagnosed, the person can become more and more ill. The symptoms of dementia often make someone unable to care for themselves. They might wander away from home and get lost or in an accident. They may also do something dangerous while attempting to cook or do another daily task.
Being aware of the symptoms of dementia and how to tell them apart from depression is important. Learning to understand the two conditions will ensure that people with either dementia or depression get the help they need.