Dementia vs. Depression

Never assume that a loss of mental sharpness is just a normal sign of old age. It could be a sign of depression or dementia, both of which are common in the elderly. But since depression and dementia share many similar symptoms, including memory problems, sluggish speech and movements, and low motivation, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. There are, however, some differences that can help you distinguish between the two.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Mental decline is relatively rapid
  • Knows the correct date, time, and where he/she is
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Language and motor skills are slow, but normal
  • Notices or worries about memory problems

Symptoms of Dementia

  • Mental decline happens slowly
  • Confused and disoriented; becomes lost in familiar locations
  • Difficulty with short-term memory
  • Writing, speaking, and motor skills are impaired
  • Doesn’t notice memory problems or seem to care

Whether the cognitive decline is caused by dementia or depression, prompt diagnosis and treatment are key. If it’s depression, memory, concentration, and energy will bounce back with treatment. Treatment for dementia will also improve you our your loved one’s quality of life. And in some types of dementia, symptoms can be reversed, halted, or slowed.


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