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Acute and violent reaction to diagnosis


New member
Jun 25, 2021
Following an assessment by the Consultant Psychiatrist on Wednesday my mum who is 84 was diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia with Alzheimers. She has taken this really badly - threatening suicide, sobbing uncontrollably, refusing to get out of bed, refusing to eat or drink.....we've managed to calm her down on several occasions and cheer her up a little but she is now very depressed. The GP has suggested we keep an eye on her for the time being as this may be an acute and violent reaction which subsides and therefore no need for an aggressive intervention at this stage - however if it persists beyond a week there may be a need for anti-depressants. I just wondered if anyone else had experienced this and how they dealt with the situation? Thank you.


Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
N Ireland
Hello and welcome @Jcrane

My wife reacted badly to her diagnosis(as is common), but not as badly as you outline.

In my wife's case, she did settle and accept things after a while. There is hope that this will happen.

Anxiety and depression are common bedfellows of dementia so it's wise to go with the GP. My wife is medicated for both of these conditions as well as her Alzheimer's.


Registered User
May 21, 2018
Hello @Jcrane

Sorry to read your mum has reacted so badly. I think a lot of people would. It's a difficult time for all of you. My mum has never known her diagnosis and has reacted very badly to attempts at any sort of tests, so a "probable diagnosis" was made after I had already moved her into a care home, after looking after her myself for a couple of years. I am sure she would have reacted in the same way. Her mood has been extremely unpredictable but we have found reviews of medication very useful throughout the last few years. An anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication (Mirtazapine in mum's case) can be very beneficial.

Many members have avoided referring to dementia after diagnosis to avoid upset. Just dealing with any symptoms as they arise often seems a good approach. Gentle phrases such as "don't worry, I can remember that for you" and "well your memory is a bit wonky at the moment but not to worry, you can share mine" and "that memory's popped out for a while but it will be back later" have worked for me and mum in the past.

Keep posting for support and advice. There are lots of us out here to help you along. This link may be useful in the meantime:


Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
My mother was diagnosed but we never were able to tell her properly. The closest I got was to say her memory wasn't what it used to be. This she would grudgingly accept.

I think in most cases there is no point in trying to get the PWD to accept the diagnosis. I feel they should be told once and that's it.