Depressive disorders in Alzheimer's disease: diagnosis and treatment

Depressive symptoms frequently arise in the course of dementia, imposing additional limitations to both cognitive performance and quality of life. Diagnosing depression in these cases can be difficult, especially in patients with moderate and severe Alzheimer's disease. In general, non-pharmacological approaches are the first-line treatment for mild depressive symptoms, but medication is clearly indicated for moderate and severe cases. However, age-and disease-related changes make the pharmacological management of such patients particularly complex and hazardous. In spite of their documented therapeutic value, antidepressant medications are widely underused in this population. Electroconvulsive therapy is also valuable in the management of refractory or severe depression. This is a review of the literature regarding the association of depression and Alzheimer's disease, and a summary of the guidelines for safe prescription of antidepressant treatment.

Dementia; Alzheimer's disease; Depression; Diagnosis; Treatment

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