After I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015, I was given Aricept, one of the two main drugs for people still in the early or middle stage. But without anyone asking me, I was prescribed an antidepressant. But the doctor seemed to suggest that anyone with Alzheimer’s would be depressed. In my case, I felt much better after I left my job. In fact, within a week, I felt much than I had for the past two years. For me, leaving my job quickly was a godsend.
My vocation as a writer allows me to work at home. And that is one reason why I don’t often get the blues. But the fact sheet is quite dated: 2003. That was the same year that Joanne Koenig Coste published Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s, a book that has had a huge impact in this century. Here are some of the more relevant points. At that time, in 2o percent to 40 percent with Alzheimer’s become depressed. “Identifying depression in Alzheimer’s can be difficult. There is no single test or questionnaire that can lead to a diagnosis.” The fact sheet notes that apathy itself can be a symptom of depression.
“The first step in a diagnosis is a thorough evaluation. Side effects of medication or an unrecognized medical condition…of the evaluation will include the person’s mental and physical state.” Key elements include apathy, which can lead to a vicious circle. Patients may be trying, but without a lot of support—from one’s spouse or another significant person—the patient may lose faith that things can better. The fact sheet notes, “Dementia itself can lead to certain symptoms commonly associated with apathy. “Cognitive impairment may be experienced.”
According to the fact sheet, this is what many of my cohorts and I should expect—a slow, long trek where the victims’ families will bury their dead. According to a group of investigators with much experience in studying dementia, the *National Institute of Mental Health proposed the diagnostic. Here are some of the listings from the fact sheet: “Significantly depressed mood—sad, hopeless, tearful; decreased positive feelings; social isolation; disruption in appetite that is not related to another medical condition; disruption in sleep; agitation or slowed or; disruption that is not related to a medical condition.
*This is not the current name of this building.