Alzheimer’s disease is a well-known form of dementia characterized by the progressive, irrevocable loss of memory and other basic brain functions. In fact, more people develop this kind of dementia than any other. While alarming, there are ways to detect it early. Many mental health professionals view depression as a risk factor for the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from age-related depression and Alzheimer’s symptoms, Promises Recovery Ranch depression treatment programs can help provide the support you need. Contact our team today at 1.844.876.7680 for more information.
Alzheimer’s Disease Basics
Alzheimer’s disease comes from Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a fifty-year-old woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He observed clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles) among the woman’s brain cells. Today, we know that amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive impairments that interfere with daily life. Like all forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s involves the loss of higher-level functions in the brain, such as the ability to make and recall memories, the ability to make logical judgments, and the general ability to think clearly.
Some forms of dementia produce relatively modest changes in these functions; however, Alzheimer’s disease produces marked changes and, eventually, complete loss of function. In addition to memory problems and impaired thinking, people with Alzheimer’s disease may also experience changes in mood and behavior. For example, they may become anxious or depressed. As the disease progresses, they may become agitated or even aggressive. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative, progressive illness. This means that it gets worse over time and that brain cells are gradually lost.
Depression in the Elderly
As people age, brain tissues and nerve cells begin to gradually deteriorate. As this process unfolds, the chances of experiencing depression begin to gradually increase. This is why elderly populations are much more susceptible to symptoms of depression and is also why depression is understood to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Effects of depression in the elderly include:
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or loneliness
- Increased irritability or agitation
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Fatigue and decreased energy levels
- Feeling worthless, helpless, or hopeless
- Thoughts of death or suicide
The Link Between Depression and Alzheimer’s
Depression in older adults is a risk factor for dementia rather than a symptom of early Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that people with a history of clinical depression are more likely to develop dementia, especially if they experience multiple episodes of depression or if their depression remains untreated.
It is believed that there are several mechanisms underlying the link between depression and Alzheimer’s:
- First, it is thought that the changes in brain structure and function that occur during depression may also be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Second, it is thought that depression may hasten the onset of Alzheimer’s by increasing the levels of stress hormones in the brain. These hormones can damage nerve cells and lead to inflammation, both of which are thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Finally, it is thought that depression may interfere with the ability of people to take care of themselves and make healthy lifestyle choices. For example, depressed people may be less likely to exercise, eat a healthy diet, or socialize, all of which have been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
Manage Elderly Depression at Promises Recovery Ranch Treatment Programs
Because of the link between depression in elderly individuals and Alzheimer’s, getting treatment is vital. At Promises Recovery Ranch, we offer depression treatment programs that focus on helping elderly individuals receive the therapeutic support they need to live a higher quality of life. We provide treatment for depression in elderly individuals to mitigate the severity of symptoms before they develop into more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Reach out to our team today at 1.844.876.7680 to learn more about how our programs can help your loved one