The Corpus Callosum

Depression vs. Dementia

This item just appeared on the news tubes, and I thought I’d pass it

signs of early dementia from depression is tricky

Mar 24, 2008, 3:07 GMT

Berlin – It’s often difficult to differentiate between early stages of
dementia and depression, but a precise psychiatric examination can
help, said the German society for psychiatry, psychotherapy and
neurology in Berlin.

‘An Alzheimer dementia usually begins with creeping disturbances in
memory, difficulty finding words, changes in behaviour and a decrease
in activity,’ said Professor Wolfgang Maier, a member of the society’s
board of directors.

Depression is similar. The difference is patients with depression can
often give detailed descriptions of their memory problems, while people
with dementia tend to play them down.

This is not really news, as far as it goes.  Unfortunately,
they do not link to any source material.  Presumably, they
were reporting on the proceeds at a conference.  Perhaps the
study itself has not been published yet.

Still, the basic message for the general public is that it can indeed
be difficult to establish the distinction.  There is a term, pseudodementia
of depression
, that is used to denote the situation
in which someone appears to have dementia, but actually has depression.

Of course, the two conditions can coexist.  In that case, it
generally is desirable to treat both.