Healthy Living: Is it Alzheimer's or depression?
When it comes to the aging mind and forgetfulness you might consider: is it Alzheimer's or can it be something that is managed, or even cured? As Marcie Fraser reports, you have to rule out depression.
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Because symptoms of Alzheimer's and depression are very similar, a wrong diagnosis can be costly.
"Chronic depression can cause a structure in your brain to shrink, and that structure is called the hippocampus and that structure is responsible for new learning and remembering," said psychologist Dr. Shannon Gould.
While depression can be treated and often cured, Alzheimer's can only be managed. An early diagnosis means early treatment. Neuropsychological evaluations can help determine if it’s dementia or depression.
"We are looking at attention, concentration, processing speed. I may have my patients read a short story and recall as much of that story as they can," said Dr. Gould.
Depression is not always common in Alzheimer's patients, but a deficit in their daily living is.
"Difficulty taking medication, maybe they are missing a dosage of medication here, or let’s say a person has always managed the finances, was impeccable with balancing the check book, now suddenly they have difficulty writing out a check properly," said Dr. Gould.
While a depressed person may have difficulty concentrating and be forgetful, they usually are aware of it. Alzheimer's patients generally are not.
"They forget that they forgot. The family members often come in with the patient and the family members are very concerned and the patient says, 'my memory is ok, it's my family that has the problem, not me,'” said Dr. Gould.
According to Dr. Gould, long term depression can negatively impact the brain. Those things can be reversed by physical activity.
If you are concerned about your parent showing signs of Alzheimer's, be sure to rule out depression.