How can you tell the difference?

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YES! Of course every person is different but depression causes an early onset of dementia. With aging brain cells die but depression causes it to happen more rapidly.
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You won't be able to tell the difference. Often it's hard enough for a physician to tell the difference. Depression can mimic dementia, and someone with dementia can develop depression. My first step would be to have your PCP administer one of the short dementia screens. If dementia is suspected, a referral to a specialist would be ordered. If not, and signs of depression show, the depression can be treated by itself. So dementia and depression are two different conditions, but they can co-exist. See the family dr.
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rustic21: Yes, there are differences. Depression is oftentimes classified as extreme melacholia and Dementia is a disease of brain functionality. More specific information is required from you.
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Depression tends to manifest as sadness and withdrawal symptoms. Later stages of some types of dementia have similar symptoms.

Usually with Parkinson's disease, the person has stiffness, "pill-rolling" tremors in arms/hands, masklike face, and dementia is later stages. As their stiffness progresses, they can exhibit depression-type symptoms.

Alzheimer's disease usually starts with difficulties in decision-making, mathematical skills, and judgment. Memory issues then come along. Slowly the person loses memories and skills. Many times the person can become anxious and exhibit either agitation/violence or withdrawal with whimpering or crying.

Vascular dementia or stroke-related dementia can show many types of symptoms that depend on which parts of the brain are affected. If areas of the brain that control emotion are affected, the person can be very emotional - including depression symptoms.

Depression is also a psychological diagnosis. It has more to do with "programming of the brain" and less to do with "structures of the brain". Depression can be treated with medication and behavior modification. FYI, depression is considered the "common cold" of mental health since it is so common. Many seniors tend to suffer from depression, especially if they are isolated.
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If they were manic depressive maybe. That would shut down the brain even to the point of being nonresponsive.
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There are other medical issues that can mimic dementia symptoms:

- over- or under-medication
- prescription pain pill addiction
- thyroid issues
- diabetes
- undiagnosed Lyme's disease (in rare instances)
- neurological problems like tumors
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Yes. As can anxiety disorder. More specificity would help some of us to iron it out. Need specific occurences.
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Can depression cause dementia like symptoms?

Depression. People sometimes manifest dementia-like symptoms—forgetfulness, disorientation, inattentiveness, and slowed responses—when they are depressed. This so-called pseudodementia can masquerade as the depression that often accompanies Alzheimer's disease, but there are subtle differences.

How can you tell the difference between depression and dementia?
Here are the differences:

1. Depression develops faster than dementia (dementia takes weeks or months to develop).
2. Despite memory lapses, those with depression will be able to remember something when asked.
3. Impaired judgment in those with depression is usually caused by the lack of concentration.

The best thing to do is to get a medical evaluation from the doctor.

Good luck!
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