According to the Alzheimer’s Association, up to 40% of people with Alzheimer’s are clinically depressed.  However, diagnosing their depression may be difficult.  One reason is their disease often precludes them from articulating their feelings.  Another is that many symptoms of depression such as apathy and social withdrawal are themselves symptoms of dementia.  In addition, side-effects from certain medications or unrecognized medical conditions can be mistaken for depression. For all these reasons the first step in accurate diagnosis is a professional medical evaluation.  The Alzheimer’s Association suggestions consulting a geriatric psychiatrist or clinical psychologist with an emphasis on the elderly.  Treating depression in someone with Alzheimer’s usually involves a combination of medication and social therapies.  One of several medically-approved antidepressants may be prescribed.  Also family members and caregivers are encouraged to develop a supportive routine to help the individual reconnect to the activities and people they enjoy.

Doug Stark, President, ComfortCare Homes Wichita (This article featured in the Wichita Eagle, July 21, 2011)