Differential diagnosis

Depression is the main condition liable to be confused with dementia, especially in the elderly. Depressivepseudodementia, as the name implies, refers to states of depressive illness where the presentation mimics dementia. It can usually be distinguished from dementia by the history of comparatively recent and quick onset, almost always in a patient with a history of previous episodes of depressive illness. Mental state examination may show pronounced features of low mood, and psychological testing may produce better results than in true dementia. In doubtful cases, a therapeutic trial of antidepressant drugs or ECT should be undertaken. In some patients, the two disorders co-exist, indeed depression is thought to be a risk factor for the development of dementia.

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