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Dementia or depression?

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Old 12-09-2008, 11:48 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: US
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PeppermintS HB User
Dementia or depression?

I'm in my early 40s. My great-grandmother had some kind of dementia. I'm told she was confused, kept accidentally starting fires, things like that. Her daughter, my grandmother, also showed signs of it, asking the same questions repeatedly and so forth, but she was an alcoholic so maybe that was part of her problem. I don't know if it would have gotten worse because she died in her late 50s. My grandmother's sister, however, had serious dementia - completely unable to recognize anyone or care for herself before she died (in her 60s).

In recent years my mother (early 60s) has started to act like her mother did, needing simple things repeated to her many times before she understands them, but she isn't worried about it.

Now I'm getting worried about myself because I'm becoming confused a lot for no apparent reason. For instance, I went shopping and when the checkout person told me how much I owed, I became confused about how much money to give her. It wasn't that I couldn't make change (of course I know how to do that), but that I couldn't understand the amount she was asking for. I couldn't get my brain to make sense of what she was saying so I just gave her a lot of money and let her figure it out. This is unlike me.

Today I looked at a picture of a close relative and recognized him, then doubted myself and wondered if it was really him. Of course it was, but I continued to doubt myself. I know these are minor incidents, but this kind of thing is happening to me all the time. I am having trouble with my work because I get confused over simple things that I know well. And I can't seem to snap out of these episodes of confusion like I should.

I know I can't be diagnosed on a message board, but I wonder if someone can tell me whether it's possible my symptoms are caused by depression, since I have been very depressed this year, or if I am right to worry about early dementia, given my mother's family history. If it matters, I don't smoke or drink at all, and my nutrition is excellent. Thank you for any replies.

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Old 12-10-2008, 03:25 AM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: USA
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Re: Dementia or depression?

PeppermintS -

There are lots of things that can cause problems with memory, that aren't AD. Yes, depression and stress can cause problems. There are many illnesses that can have this problem (part of DH's diagnosis included scans and bloodwork to eliminate some of those alternative causes). Medications can have this effect. Sleep disorders and exhaustion can cause this problem. Personally, I also went through a horrible period with menopause where my brain didn't function.

Yes -- you already know what you have to do. You have to go to the doctor. Hugs.


Last edited by Beginning; 12-10-2008 at 03:26 AM.

Old 12-10-2008, 03:33 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Langley BC Canada
Posts: 98
duncan1 HB User
Re: Dementia or depression?

Lyme Disease can cause early onset dementia. If all else fails, then request a 6 months course of treatment with minocycline. This antibiotic is very effective in crossing the blood/brain barrier.

Old 12-10-2008, 07:33 AM   #4
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Re: Dementia or depression?

I agree with Beginning. You need a complete physical and review of all medications you are taking. There are conditions and medications, including depression and stress, that can cause the symptoms you describe. You need to have the doctor give you the mini mental evaluation test. It is just a series of questions and answers used as a quick test of your cognitive abilities. Depending on what you find there you can go to a Memory Assessment Service, neurologist, or other specialist in diagnosing cognitive problems. Instead of worry.... check it out.

I had similar questions and concerned and it turned out to be the statin I was taking for elevated cholesterol. So don't resign yourself to the fate of other until you check it out thoroughly with qualified physicians.

For you I hope it is not so. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.....

Love, deb

Old 12-10-2008, 09:33 AM   #5
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: US
Posts: 2
PeppermintS HB User
Re: Dementia or depression?

Thank you all -- your replies are very helpful.

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