Let’s face it, growing older is not always fun or easy. Sometimes aging is depressing. Our own or others’ health issues pop up when least expected or progress more rapidly than expected. Then we notice a worsening memory and may wonder if these memory issues are dementia or depression. But don’t wonder too long.
A recent study looked at depression and dementia to determine if there is a better way to tell if it’s one or the other or even both. The results identified a new procedure to help differentiate between these diagnoses with often overlapping symptoms. A SPECT scan can help clinicians distinguish what is really going on in the brain. This procedure may not be for everyone, but what is extremely important is talking with our doctor about what is happening for a further work up.
So many people come to me for help with their memory after a long period of time. In reality, the interventions we can best assist with are much more effective months or even years earlier in most cases. But when small memory issues or even early depression symptoms appear, it’s often dismissed as normal aging.
It’s NOT normal aging to be depressed and quit doing what we’ve always loved.
It’s NOT normal aging to forget how to do things which were once automatic.
It’s NOT normal aging to stop talking or engaging with others when we used to be very social.
It’s NOT normal aging to have minimal or no desire to help ourselves.
It’s imperative to talk with our health care provider if any of these or other memory or depressive issues arise. Please bring it up and make sure you are heard. We know ourselves and our loved ones best. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If you’re wondering if it’s depression or dementia, talk about it. Discuss further testing like the one suggested in this study or seek a second opinion if needed.
Any health care provider will welcome a second opinion if they have our best interest as their primary goal. Don’t be shy, speak up about what you’re seeing, feeling and experiencing. Health care providers can best help if we’re open and honest. The time to say something is when it’s beginning, not months or years later. Allow us to help you by being transparent. Let’s be our own best advocates for ourselves and those we love. How well we age depends on it.
Daniel G. Amen, Pavitra Krishnamani, Somayeh Meysami, Andrew Newberg, Cyrus A. Raji. Classification of Depression, Cognitive Disorders, and Co-Morbid Depression and Cognitive Disorders with Perfusion SPECT Neuroimaging. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-161232