dementia mental illness

Mental illness can mimic the symptoms of dementia in many ways, and vice versa. While there are many parallels between the two, there are some significant distinctions as well. You'll want to keep reading if you have a loved one in hospice in San Francisco or elsewhere who is suffering from one of these conditions. We'll use this blog to explore the parallels and distinctions between mental illness and dementia in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 6-12).

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, millions of Americans suffer from mental illness each year, but it's vital to remember that mental illness impacts everyone, whether directly or indirectly through friends, family, or workplace (NAMI). However, despite the breadth and ubiquity of mental illness, stigma and misunderstanding persist. When you combine that misunderstanding with the reality that mental illness can mimic dementia symptoms and vice versa, you have a major, widespread issue in this society.

Mental Illness in Alzheimer's Disease

in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, mental illness, particularly depression, is widespread. According to Today's Geriatric Medicine, correct diagnosis and treatment have been shown to improve cognitive performance. Living with Alzheimer's disease is stressful enough, but the symptoms are exacerbated when it coexists with other mental illnesses such as anxiety, sadness, and psychotic disorders.

According to the CDC, significant symptoms of depression occur in up to 50% of older persons with Alzheimer's disease, with major depression occurring in around 25% of cases. The belief that depression is simply an older adult's reaction to and awareness of progressive decline is frequently mixed in with depression. But there's more to it than that, with some study indicating a biochemical link between Alzheimer's disease and depression.

Anxiety disorders are very widespread, affecting roughly 30% of persons with Alzheimer's disease. Anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, ranging from generalized anxiety and the fear of leaving home to agitation in response to changes in routine and thoughts of suspicion or paranoia. Anxiety has been related to Alzheimer's disease on both a psychological and physical level.

Symptoms in Dementia Patients

Alzheimer's disease can coexist with psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia-affected older persons are equally as likely to get Alzheimer's disease as those who do not have a serious mental condition. They're also more likely to develop depression, perhaps resulting in a trifecta of co-occurring mental diseases. These illnesses have the following symptoms:

  • Extremely depressed

  • Feelings of despondency

  • People and formerly cherished activities bore you.

  • Irritability

  • Anxiety about change, leaving the house, strangers, and so on.

  • Suspicion or paranoia are common feelings.

  • Disruptions in sleep

  • Agitation

  • Restlessness

  • Aggression has increased.

  • Pacing

  • Immobility

  • Delusions

  • Hallucinations

  • Abuse, whether verbal or physical

  • Refusal to work together

Such symptoms have been linked to negative repercussions for those caring for the patient, including increased caregiver load and a higher risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and physical sickness among caregivers.