1. Dayperson

    Dayperson Registered User

    Feb 18, 2015
    Is there a link between the two? I spoke to my elderly aunt on the phone who has been recently diagnosed with dementia and altzehmiers (according to my uncle). The conversation with my aunt was distressing as she sounded panicked and could not say a sentence without heavy breathing. This has come on within the last few months since I last spoke to her. She was hospitalized with a heart attack last year. Could the two be linked and what is her prognosis likely to be?
  2. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    Hi Dayperson,

    Yes, absolutely. There is a huge link between anxiety and dementia. People with dementia often live in a constant state of fear. It isn't surprising when you think about it; it must be terrifying to feel your mind and your abilities slipping away little by little. It gets worse too. Imagine not knowing who you are, or waking up and not knowing where you are, or a person walks into your room and you have no clue who it is, etc. etc. Imagine those sorts of feelings all day and every day. My dad is that way now and is afraid of everything. He is scared to talk to me on Skype before he comes on because he can't remember what it entails. He trails my mum around the house like a shadow because he's afraid of being alone. He wakes her up when she is asleep because he thinks she is dead. It goes on and on.

    The prognosis depends on the person. Some dementia patients do well on medication, some don't. Some pass through the fear stage and get into the happy, detached La-La Land stage and some don't. All you can do is try to reassure them if they feel anxious and make them feel safe. Best of luck.

  3. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    My OH lived in torment over his anxiety; anxious when he went out, anxious when he was at home due to hallucinations/delusions. There appeared to be no respite from his feelings. He changed from a happy go lucky person to someone who had real trouble living in the world.

    I have no answers I'm afraid-sometimes meds can help so it maybe worthwhile contacting the GP.

    Take care

    Lyn T XX
  4. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    To add to that, I suffer from Anxiety Disorder myself and I take one little pill every night (Meilax 1mg). It's a very weak dose, but it has changed my life. I don't wake up in a panic anymore. I don't dread getting out of bed. Don't get panic attacks on public transport, in crowds etc. As Lyn said, try talking to the GP as even slight medication can work wonders.

    Best of luck.

  5. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    I don't know about any research that has proven a link between anxiety and dementia, but I can offer anecdotal evidence about my mother. My mother was diagnosed with dementia in January, but has clearly been suffering from it for at least the past several years, and probably longer.

    Sometime in the past two years, my mother began reporting she was having a difficult time with anxiety. Everything LS reports, is absolutely true about my mother. I now understand that the dementia was a direct cause of the anxiety, because my mother was struggling so much to cope and not appear that there was a problem, that it made her anxious, all the time. Everything made her anxious: shopping, getting the mail, trying (and failing) to pay bills, remembering directions, chores, going to the doctor, going to the chemist, literally everything made her anxious, ALL THE TIME. Her GP did give her medication, which might have helped, had she been able to remember to take it.

    Since her hospitalization and subsequent move into a care home, the anxiety has disappeared. I think this is a combination of better medications for her depression and anxiety, but also because the stress of daily living has been reduced. No more mail, laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, paying bills, et cetera.

    Your aunt may well feel anxious because she can't remember things, or is struggling to remember. She may also be confusing physical symptoms and anxiety with each other, for example, if she feels short of breath or unwell from her cardiac condition. She could also be experiencing something physical, related to the heart attack last year, or something else entirely. I would definitely talk to her doctor. It couldn't hurt to get the GP to assess her both physically and also to try medication for the anxiety.

    I hope you're able to help sort something out for your aunt. Good luck.
  6. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    When the disease affects the brain..the first part to be affected is the numbers fact reason figures etc.
    The longer standing part of the brain is the part that deals with emotions.

    So to simplify everything in their lives will be dealt with through their emotions..
    Imagine trying to work something out with a part of the brain that doesnt use logic or know numbers or figures or recent memory..

    All the brain knows is emotions.
    Its hard enough that their most recent memory left might be childhood or different to the person in the mirror.
    Imagine only having emotions to deal with things..
    Best wishes

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Talking Point mobile app
  7. lizzybean

    lizzybean Registered User

    Feb 3, 2014
    My MIL was a worrier pre-dementia but now it's a 100 times worse. She (as someone else said) worries about everything. If a light bulb goes it could possibly mean the end of the world!!

    She takes an anti-depressant but I don't think it does any good, I may have to take her back to the GP, maybe an anti-anxiety drug is the answer?? Is there an answer? is there a difference between Anti-depressant & anti-anxiety drugs??
  8. Loopiloo

    Loopiloo Registered User

    May 10, 2010
    These descriptions are so similar to how my husband was for years at home. He has now been in a care home for over 4 years and although he still can be anxious etc., nothing as bad as he used to be. Although he was there about a year before it gradually eased and his anxiety and anguish were utterly heart breaking.

    It did not help that he was 6 months in hospitals and then not allowed home, hence the care home. His dementia became much worse in the hospitals as did his depression, anxiety etc.

    HIs dementia has considerably progressed, as it does. He is now more settled, content, and his times of anxiety and fear are much less frequent and short lived.

  9. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    I think my mum is really at the stage described by Amy in the US. She is so anxious, all the time....and wasn't in the week she just spent in hospital. Which is partly why the hospital saw her as so much more competent than she is at home. In her own place, she is paralysed with fear and anxiety. Horrible to see :(

    Than you for helping to clarify this for me :)

    Lindy xx
  10. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    #10 Long-Suffering, Jul 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
    Hi Lizzybean,

    As someone with long-term anxiety and depression myself, I can tell you it takes a lot of work to find the right drugs for any patient - everyone reacts to them differently. With a dementia patient is must be even more difficult to find the right drugs because they can't tell you how they feel. If I get side effects I can explain exactly what they are to my doctor, but obviously someone with dementia can't do that. Thankfully, in recent years there have been great improvements, and it's now possible to take ones which don't give you horrible side effects, but it still often takes time to find one that really suits the patient. Yes, take her back to the doctor and talk to him.

    There are differences between anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs and there are also different types of both drugs. In practice, many doctors prescribe both types together because there is a big overlap between anxiety and depression and many patients experience both. Also, one of the major symptoms of depression is anger (many folks don't realise that) and the anti-anxiety drugs help with the anger too.

    I am currently on Lexapro for my depression and Meilax for my anxiety. I don't know if they would be suitable for your mum, but they are great for me and after the first week, the minimal side effects (dry mouth, nausea) disappeared. BTW, what doseage is your mum on? The doctor may just up the dosage if the current dose isn't working. I am on 10mg of Lexapro, but if things get bad I have to double that. The Meilax is great because even just 1mg totally gets rid of my anxiety.

    The main thing with psychiatric drugs is that you can't expect immediate results; it nearly always takes a while to find a medication that suits the patient and the correct dosage. A lot of people give up on them too soon because they don't realise this.

    Anyway, best of luck and hope the doc works it out for the best.

  11. MerryWive

    MerryWive Registered User

    Mar 20, 2015
    Yes it makes sense that they would frequently be found together. My MIL is on one drug for anxiety (Mirtazapine) and one for late-stage dementia (Ebixa). Has worked wonders for her.
  12. Dayperson

    Dayperson Registered User

    Feb 18, 2015
    Thanks for all the interesting comments.

    My aunt was due to see the doctor (I was told a psychologist) according to my uncle and hopefully they've given her something to make her less anxious.

    My mum (aunt is on her side) also has memory problems and I am sure that she has dementia too. It is funny to watch the two of them talk as the conversation gets repeated. I'm not looking forward to talking to my aunt for fear that she will be worse.
  13. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    my mother was always anxious always scared never liked meeting people, has been on diazapan for 10yrs was diagnosed with dementia last year for sure but had it before then

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