Archive for December, 2011

In the past few weeks I have covered several issues regarding depression. It is clear that being demented does not necessarily cause one to be depressed. Furthermore, being diagnosed with dementia or being placed in a care facility does not necessarily lead to depression. Depression is common but not inevitable outcome for all of us as we age. Medications work in less than half of those who are depressed and are clearly not a panacea. Finally, treating depression requires getting moving despite a lack of motivation. What about depression in those who care for someone who is demented? Caregiving does not itself cause depression. Many caregivers have never had to deal with these feelings before and are too busy giving care to attend to their own needs and feelings. Statistics provide a wide range of estimates (20 to 60%) suggesting […]


As discussed the past two weeks, depression is frequent in both community dwelling elders and those with dementia. No matter what the source of depression, the most effective treatment for depression is to get activated even though you don’t want to. This is true for the young as well as the elderly and for caregivers as well as care receivers. We have often discussed the benefits of exercise for cognitive skills but there is also considerable evidence suggesting that exercise improves mood. For example, active people are less depressed on average than inactive people. Furthermore, people who exercise regularly and stop tend to show a decline in mood when compared to those who start or maintain exercise. A recent study randomly assigned depressed adults to an exercise group, a medication group, or a placebo group. Both exercise and medications improved […]


As discussed last week, depression is frequent in both community dwelling elders (by most standards those over 55) and those with dementia. Depression is more likely in dementias due to either vascular disease (strokes) or Lewy body disease than in Alzheimer’s disease (maybe there’s a benefit to short term memory loss). In short, depression is a common but not inevitable outcome for all of us as we age. What are the best treatments for depression? How well do different treatments work for those who are demented as well as for those who are not? Medications in the class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Paxil are the most common medical treatment for depression. However, they are not a panacea – especially in the elderly and those who are demented. A large portion of […]

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