Up to 70% of people with dementia experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. These symptoms include low mood or feeling sad or blue, constant worry or feeling stressed, crying more than usual, feeling tired a lot, having trouble sleeping (either falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early), and loss of interest in things they used to enjoy. About 30-40% of people with dementia have clinical depression or anxiety which means they have more severe or persistent symptoms.
Scientists think the brain changes related to dementia might also cause depression or anxiety. The symptoms can also be a reaction to being given a diagnosis of dementia, or to lifestyle changes because the person has dementia.
Treatments can help with depression or anxiety. Counselling, including grief and loss counselling, or cognitive behaviour therapy can help people manage their depression or anxiety. They may help people to avoid anxiety and depression. Research shows that talking therapies can improve mood of people with dementia.
To get support for depression or anxiety:
- Ring Dementia Australia for FREE counselling on 1800 100 500
- Join a Dementia Alliance International peer-to-peer support group
- Talk to your GP about how you are feeling. Your GP can help you develop a mental health plan with subsidised visits to a psychologist, occupational therapist or social worker.
- Talk to a psychologist, if you can afford to pay privately or if you have private health insurance. Try to find a psychologist with experience working with older people, or people with dementia.
- Medications can help with depression and anxiety, though they are not always effective for people with dementia. Talk to your doctor if you want to try medication to see if it will help.
- Beyond blue have useful resources for older people on managing mood.
Get support early
- Telephone Dementia Australia: 1800 100 500
The free counsellors at Dementia Australia will listen and help you make sense about your feelings about dementia.
- Talk to your doctor
Tell them how you are feeling and ask for a mental health plan to get subsidised visits to a psychologist or counsellor. You can also ask about whether medications might help you.