Alzheimer’s Disease: A Major Challenge in the Effective Treatment of Depression in the Elderly

by Kapoor S., Prev Chronic Dis 2008;5(3), reported in Preventing Chronic Disease; Public Health Research, Practice and Policy, Vol 5, No. 3, July, 2008, by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Discusses the close relationship between late-life depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Reports that late-life depression may actually be a manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease itself, and failure to recognize the subtle signs and symptoms of this can delay appropriate treatment, which is a major challenge in effectively treating depres¬sion in the elderly. Scientific studies have found rates of depression as high as 51% in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Recent studies have reported that elderly patients with depres¬sion are almost 4 times more likely than those without depression to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This risk is even greater in those patients who report symptoms such as decreased energy levels or a decline in inter¬est. Physicians and caregivers should be aware of the close relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Recognizing and treating depression may help stave off or delay development of Alzheimer’s, and recognizing Alzheimer’s disease and appropriately managing it can go a long way toward effectively treating late-life depression.

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