Alzheimer’s depression comes first, memory loss afterwards

Loss of memory usually happens over a period of time. People who tend to be on the way of developing Alzheimer’s may show early symptoms like behavioral changes and depression, reports a recent study.

It has been known that many patients suffering from Alzheimer’s go through severe depression, high irritability, loss of appetite and lack of enthusiasm but fail to point out the time frame during which these symptoms appear.

Scientist believes exact identification of the origins of these early symptoms could be really helpful to achieve much better understanding of Alzheimer’s at the molecular level.

The results of this research conducted by Catherine M. Roe, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and her team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; got published Jan. 14 in Neurology.


“There has been conflicting evidence on the relationship between Alzheimer’s and depression,” said Roe.

She also added that the cause for some symptoms like sadness and irritability is still unknown. It could be due to the fact that these soon to be Alzheimer patients somewhat get to feel that they are losing memory else it is also possible that the symptoms show up because of the direct effects of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers analyzed data for 2,416 people aged between 50 and older. The participants were evaluated for seven years based on their individual performances in tests of mental function and psychological health.

It was found that even though all of them were cognitively normal initially, over this period of seven years, 1,218 of them developed dementia.

These dementia sufferers were more likely to experience frequent mood and behavioral changes first. The researchers found that after four years of the study, 30 percent of these went through depression. At the same time, only 15 percent of the participants who didn’t suffer from dementia developed depression.

Also, these dementia sufferers were more than 12 times as likely to have delusions as other participants. Further research is on to develop new markers for early detection of the disease.

But Roe suggested that mood change should not be used as a marker before exact identification of the connection of this change with the disease.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. When general day to day functions get affected due to memory loss: We all can be little forgetful at times. But people with Alzheimer’s experience this more often.
  2. People with Alzheimer’s find it difficult to perform familiar tasks: Things they have all through their lives suddenly become unfamiliar to these patients.
  3. Difficulty in language: For Alzheimer’s patients, it becomes hard to find the right word at right time.
  4. Confusion with time and place: It’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to get lost even near home.
  5. Things get misplaced: They just don’t seem to remember where the toothbrush should be kept.
  6. Reduced power of judgments: With affected brain, the capability of judgments gets decreased to a significant level.
  7. Abstract Thinking: It is just not something an Alzheimer’s patient would like to do.
  8. Frequent changes in mood and behavior: This particular symptom is very important with every Alzheimer’s patient.
  9. Personality Change: An Alzheimer’s patient also show the change in personality.
  10. Lack of enthusiasm: Alzheimer’s patients tend to be passive in most of the aspects of life.