Anyone had major improvements with antidepressant and dementia patients?

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I hate feeling so negative all the time, but caregiving has been so tough, I'm afraid to think positive and get my hopes up.

Last week my Mom's Dr. convinced her to take a low dose antidepressant and a mild sleep aid. It took a few days, but we have seen major changes for the last two days. She has all kinds of lifelong personality issues, made worse by dementia.

She is laughing, concentrating, far less confused and irritable, obsessing far less and seems so much better. Today she said she had not had a day this good in years.

No where near perfect, but so much easier than it was.

Has anyone seen long term improvements in dementia patients with these meds ?

My fear right now, she has a past history of any little thing that goes wrong she decides is a side affect and quits taking her meds.

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My husband was becoming very hard to handle & our DR put him on Zoloft 50 mg, and because he was constantly getting up during the night ( not for the bathroom) just getting up & everyone else too so shortly after she started him on Ativan 1 mg an hour before bed. Before these two meds I never was able to get a nights rest sleeping with one eye open but the medication was like a miracle. I could finely deal with him as he was now calm & sleeping well. 4 months into the Zoloft & the Dr just upped that dose to 75 mg as he was starting to become agitated in the early evening. This dose has level him out again. With both these meds he is pretty alert all day, sleeps in now til 9-10 am, but that is fine with me gives me time to rest my vocals from answering questions non stop, I should say Question.
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My FIL has been in the geriatic psych ward for a week. We have been told he has dementia (he is 86) and they have been giving him anti-depressants (Lexapro, Wellbutrin, sp?) and did have him on something that was making him sleep more but was taking him off of that medication.
He has personality issues that have went on for decades. Spent a year in the psych ward during the end of WWII (not post-traumatic). He should have went back decades ago and maybe the family would have had some peace.
Whatever they are giving him it has helped. Hope the doctor writes the perscription by the gross.
And Jinx4740 -- you typed two words that have helped me today. "His choice." Sometimes, that is simply what it all comes down to and you just have to step away to save yourself.
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My BFF's mother and father in law, both difficult people, improved a lot on an antipsychotic,for the mother, and Zoloft, for the FIL. Both were already in the NH, but it made them happier, calmer, and allowed them to enjoy their family.

My father refused anything, and was suicidal on and off. His choice.

I hope the good effects last!
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Hi Donna - It's interesting you bring this up because I was wondering about this when something similar happened to my husband. I get my husband's meds through the mail with Humana because I can get 3 month's supply for a 2-month co-pay. Anyway, there was a one-week lag when I didn't plan very well and he was out of his Zoloft. He has dementia (diagnosed 3 years ago) - and he went downhill really fast during that week he didn't take his anti-depressant. It scared the heck out of me. I didn't know what was happening. He was extra confused, kept wanting to leave, put several layers of clothing on, hoarded food and hid things much more than he normally does, felt sleepy a lot, etc., etc.. It was weird. A few days after he started taking the Zoloft again, he improved dramatically and actually became somewhat coherent again (at least as much as he could with dementia). Thanks so much for sharing your story. Many hugs!
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It sounds like the antidepressant is working effectively and if she continues taking it she can see positive results. However, dementia slowly robs the brain of the neurotransmitters necessary to think rationally, but I am wondering why you are afraid of her not feeling good? Take this time with her as a positive outcome, and don't worry about something that hasn't happened. You know tomorrow NEVER comes. Glad to hear she is doing better!
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If it is only depression, anti-depressants can be a godsend.
If it is OTHER....such as bipolar or other behavior/mood issues, an antidepressant can either help some, work limitedly, or make things worse.

When the SSRI antidepressants came out, reps instructed Docs that "if your patient has trouble sleeping at night, give them the old Tricyclic antidepressants; if they sleep fine nights, then they are best candidates for the SSRI antidepressants".
The reps no longer instruct docs in that respect on these.
I do not know why. It worked in our office.

For anxiety, it might be possible that assessing environmental issues and resolving those could decrease anxiety....infection, uncomfortable night routines, food issues, bathing issues, constipation, etc.

There are many alternatives / complimentary medicine things that can help.
One really needs to get educated properly on use of them, as, many DO act in similar ways as meds.
Magnesium is really under-used.
People who don't or can't eat dark green leafy veggies, are deficient in not only magnesium, but other minerals and nutrients critical to good health.
OTH, when someone is coming to the end of their lifespans, it can be VERY tough figuring at what point to just keep them as comfortable as possible, because there is no way to prevent their deterioration....at some point, it needs asked, how much more to put them through, when they are not used to it or have too much difficulty making healthier changes..

But helping an elder regain some calm is really a good thing for all involved.
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Please get a copy of the Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean and read it cover to cover. Take special time to focus on the effects of magnesium deficiency causing depression, irritability and mood swings! They wanted to put my mom on antidepressants too.. Mom is 86, happy and content and never ever a problem.

There are different kinds of Magnesium so please just don't run out and grab a bottle of whatever is on the shelf. This one element can make all the difference in your life and your Moms.
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Been helping with my grandmother for the past 5 years. Her doctor put her on a rx for depression and anxiety, but she refuses to take it. Said it made her dizzy. She is getting worse seeming up and down in her moods crying and accusing everyone of trying to take her things... It is getting hard to handle. I am trying to get her to let me talk with her doctor, but she is fighting me on it. She has refused to give me Medical PoA. I keep telling her it isn't good for her to keep having such mood swings, it is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I never know what I am going to walk into. She has three sons and they are of no help. They just keep tapping her for money and trying to get what little she has. If I try to get Guardianship they will fight me and I don't want a horrible court case. Granny still can feed herself, bathe and etc. It is just her mind that is going. Anxiety is a big problem for her. Does Zoloft really help with the anxiety?
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My mother found relief from anxiety and OCD symptoms using Zoloft, which she used for a good number of years prior to slipping into a state of dementia. She lived with me for 1.5 yrs prior to moving to a "memory unit" at a nearby nursing home. Just prior and during the time she lived with me, she experienced a rapid progression in the dementia. Symptoms included increased agitation, not liking foods that she had loved, some aggression, and an increase in OCD symptoms (pulling at her eyelids). I brought her to a psychiatrist/neurologist and he increased her Zoloft dose which helped decrease her agitation and anxiety a great deal. It made life for her, and us much less stressful. Her psychiatrist/neurologist continues to visit her at her nursing home and monitors her needs, coordinating with NH staff and myself. She has declined a lot, no longer can walk or stand, talks very little, and is very confused about where she is, and who others are, but the meds help her remain reasonably calm and accepting.

I can't believe anyone would go through the stressful effects of progressive dementia without the aid of medications that can decrease anxiety and depression.
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My mother was angry, combative, and not sleeping. She was baracading herself into her house thinking "people" were attempting to get into her house. Once we got her onto antidepressants, she calmed down, started sleeping better. She is much, much easier to be around. But, keep watch, after a while the drugs caused her to start sleeping far to much, at which time her drug dosage was reduced and she is back to her semi-normal self.
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