All of us experience a little lapse in memory periodically. It is also not unusual for us to feel “blah” from time to time. We have good days and bad days. However, when these problems plague us, or our loved ones, on a continuous basis, then it is time to seek professional advice. There are many similar symptoms between the conditions of Dementia and Depression. There are also sublte differences. I’d like to share some guidelines with you to improve your recognition of these problems. Keep in mind that the treatments and medications are very different for these two illnesses. Specialists, such as psychiatrists or neurologists, are your best bets for help.

Onset – Dementia occurs slowly over the years. Depression is noticed quickly.

Progression – Dementia gradually becomes worse over time. Depression is rapid.

Memory Loss – Dementia starts with recent memory loss and progresses to long-term memory loss over time. Depression can create both types of memory loss right away.

Noticeable Changes in Personality – Dementia has a generally slow affect, but can also vary from day to day. Depression creates a dramatic change immediately.

Social Inhibitions – Alzheimer’s is infamous for erasing inhibitions, allowing the victim the freedom to say and do things that are socially unacceptable. Depression does not do this, but can promote feelings of “Who cares anyway?”

Response to Questions – Dementia patients try very hard to answer correctly and to conceal their inability to understand or remember. Depressed patients admit when they do not know the answer.

Awareness of Disability – Dementia patients are convinced that there is nothing wrong with them. Depressed patients emphasize their losses.

“Sun-Downing” – This is common in Dementia patients, but does not affect Depression patients.

Mood Swings – Occur in both Dementia and Depression patients.

Uncooperative Attitude – Appears in both Dementia and Depression patients from time to time, but for different reasons. The Dementia patient generally says, “No!” to any request that they cannot understand or feel threatened by. The Depression patient is lackadaisical.

Ability to Concentrate – Dementia disrupts the attention span. Depression usually does not change this.

Speech – Dementia can severely impair a person’s ability to effectively speak. Depression usually does not effect language skills.

Depth Perception – Dementia can severely diminish this skill, but Depression does not.

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