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Depression and dementia

This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

Depression and dementia are common syndromes in older people and are usually managed by general practitioners. Comorbidity compounds the impact on patients, carers and health services.13 Yet, the relationship between the two is complex — features overlap and each seems to be a possible risk factor, symptom or consequence of the other. Thus, identification and effective management of depression in people with dementia remains a challenging task in clinical practice.

This article provides a clinically oriented selective review of current knowledge about depression in dementia, specifically aimed at primary care practitioners. Practice pearls are provided (Box 1). Although the literature overwhelmingly focuses on Alzheimer disease, here we also discuss mild cognitive impairment and other types of dementia. Mild cognitive impairment refers to a clinical status where a patient performs below norms on cognitive tests but does not have dementia. Either the patient or someone who knows him or her…