Treating symptoms of depression in people with dementia: Are non-drug strategies a promising option?

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McMaster Optimal Aging Portal
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The Bottom Line

  • Worldwide, 24 million of the 50 million people living with dementia will experience depressive symptoms with or without a formal depression diagnosis.
  • Both drug and non-drug strategies exist for the treatment of depressive symptoms in people with dementia.
  • In people with dementia who are experiencing depressive symptoms but have not been diagnosed with depression, several non-drug strategies are more effective than usual care at reducing symptoms of depression.
  • Some non-drug strategies may even be better than drug interventions.
  • Individuals with dementia should discuss these options with the health professional or health team treating them in order to determine the best strategy or combination of strategies. Caregivers should also be involved in this process.

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