Focused Activities And Support Groups May Help To Deal With Dementia Induced Depression, Say Experts

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Here is all you need to know about dementia induced depression and how it can be diagnosed.

Several studies have found depression to impact people with dementia in two different ways. One out of these two is that those living with depression are more prone to develop dementia and the second is many people with dementia suffer from depression which is also known as dementia induced depression.

According to Dr Naganath Narasimhan Prem, Chief Consultant Geriatric Medicine /Elderly Care Specialist, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai who is also an expert on the Silver Talkies panel, depression is a direct differential to dementia and we see it as a form of a reversible cause which is treatable. However, depression can be there among people with dementia but the caregivers may tend to ignore as the expression of depression among people with dementia may not be recognisable.

Depression is most common among those suffering from the early and middle stages of dementia which needs medical treatment. For the doctors, the identification of dementia induced depression to be a challenge. This is because as people with dementia already suffer from cognitive impairment, it becomes extremely difficult for them to articulate if they are feeling low, sad or hopeless. Social withdrawal, impaired thinking along with a loss of activities and interests depending on the stage of dementia are some of the symptoms of depression among those with dementia, highlights Dr Prem. Depression could be very severe among some, and for some, it may not last very long and the symptoms may fluctuate.

Unfortunately, there is no single test or questionnaire for diagnosing depression among those with dementia. The evaluation has to be done based on the medical history, physical and mental examination. The most important way of diagnosing depression is by interviewing the caregivers as they know the patient well. The intervention of a psychiatrist is needed given the complexity of this condition. Disturbances in sleep, fatigue, loss of energy and irritability among the people with both dementia are common when the symptoms of depression last for long.

Dealing with depression among people with dementia requires a multipronged approach. It involves a combination of simultaneous treatment for the cognitive impairment that arises due to dementia and anti-depression counseling for both the patient and his or her caregiver. A caregiver goes through immense pressure to take care of someone with both dementia and depression and to be able to cope with the social taboo. Keeping them socially active and engaged becomes a vital part of treating depression.

Inspiring the people with dementia and depression to cheer up, enabling them to seek inspiration from their own lives and empowering their will to feel better can help them get out of depression. Non-drug approaches like encouraging social engagement among those who are suffering, getting them to seek help from the support groups where they get to share their feelings with like-minded people and those going through similar challenges in lives can work wonder in tackling depression. Encouraging them to take part in fun group activities that they enjoy, making them contribute to daily lives in some way or the other, keeping them physically active and not letting them feel abandoned are essential to deal with depression.

Simple activities like involving the person in making an orange juice to making him familiar with the flowers in the garden, engaging her/him in a conversation, making her/him listen to music or solve a puzzle if she/he enjoys doing so can help her/him cope with the condition.

If you want to know more about the cognitive activities that can help people with dementia, click here

This article was written as a guest piece for Deccan Chronicle on behalf of Silver Talkies. It was previously published here:

About Author

Sreemoyee Chatterjee

Sreemoyee Chatterjee is the content head of Sliver Talkies. A curious and talkative storyteller, she loves spending time with and working for the older adults and getting the best for them. Sreemoyee has served as a correspondent and on-field reporter for 4 years. A classical dancer and thespian by passion, she spends her leisure by writing poetry, scripts for stage theatres and listening to countryside music.