A new study has found that symptoms of depression and apathy are present in almost 50 percent of people who receive a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the French study showed that those same people were more likely to get social assistance and had less independence and a decreased ability to perform daily activities. “Our study highlights the size of the problem of apathy and depression in newly diagnosed patients and shows what a devastating impact this can have,” said Philippe Robert, Centre Memoire de Ressources et de Recherche de Nice. “We already know that these symptoms are the most frequent neuropsychiatric manifestations in Alzheimer’s disease but this is the first time that the frequency has been observed using specific diagnostic criteria. We also know that people with apathy or depression and mild cognitive impairment have an increased risk for developing dementia, thus re-iterating the importance of intervention and helping delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and the common neuropsychiatric conditions associated with it.” He added, “Early management and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease using cognitive and neuropsychiatry signs might allow patients to remain independent for longer.”
People with Alzheimer’s often suffer with depression and apathy and research has shown that people with mild cognitive impairment and apathy are at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s. In this recent study, the researchers examined 734 patients who had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They used specific diagnostic tests and markers to determine the frequency of apathy and depressive symptoms. The study revealed that apathy had a frequency of 41.6 percent and depression a frequency of 47.9 percent. Of the 734 patients in the study, over 30 percent had results that indicated the presence of both depression and apathy. Overall, less than ten percent were diagnosed with just apathy, over 15 percent had symptoms of depression alone, and over 40 percent of the test subjects showed no signs of depression or apathy.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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