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Catch 22? Antidepressants and developing dementia


Registered User
May 4, 2018
Hi all,

*trigger warning*

I've posted here before but to quickly sum: I'm 23, mums been diagnosed for two years with young onset dementia since age 53, I'm her primary carer.

I've been experiencing frequently low moods, sense of hopelessness, thoughts of self-harm (twice acted on it), and a general sense of whats-the-point for perhaps a year now off and on.
I have just spoken to my doctor who recommended Citalopram antidepressants to me.
I'm in a catch 22 situation because I am terrified of developing dementia in my 50s like my mum due to genetics. As depression / antidepressants have been tenuously linked with developing dementia I'm scared to take them. I'm unsure whether I should go on feeling the way I do or take the medication. I don't know which one makes me more frightened.

No real question asked here .. just seeking advice.
Thanks X


Registered User
Mar 15, 2020
i would take the antidepressants even if on a temporary basis just to pick you up. if you are doing self harm it could lead to all sorts of other things. doesnt have to be long term just a course of about 6 months and whose to say you will inherit dementia in 40yrs time its a long time of feeling bad depressed i have had them many years no complications and im your mums age.


Registered User
May 21, 2018
Only you and your doctor can make this decision but it sounds as though dealing with your depression is the most important thing at present. There are articles linking some anti-depressants to dementia but I have also read at least one which says that Citalopram can reduce production of the brain plaques tied to Alzheimer's. There is so much information available to us now, and not all of it reliable.

Has your doctor suggested taking it just for a while, along with some kind of therapy which may also help, cognitive behavioural therapy, for example? You may find that you do not need to take the Citalopram for very long.

I take Mirtazapine, an anti-depressant, for anxiety, depression and insomnia. There may be downsides but, as I can only sleep a couple of hours a night without it, I feel it is worth it. I would urge you to try and take hold of this depression now and work with your doctor on sorting it out. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and see what he or she says.


Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
High Peak
You are 23 with your whole life ahead of you. You may or may not get early onset dementia like your mum, but there isn't anything (much) you can do about that.

Right now you need some help. My first thought would be to see your GP to arrange some counselling sessions. (In some areas you can self-refer.) And take the anti-depressants. Please try to live in the 'now' and don't worry about what might happen in umpteen years - it's just not helpful.

Try to put something into your life (yoga, walking, pc games, a kitten) that you absolutely love. You can't change your mum but you can change your own life and make it better than it is right now.

Wishing you strength :)


Registered User
Mar 27, 2017
Dear @chloehvy

I am not medically qualified and clearly you are having mixed thoughts on a course of medication. As you say no questions just seeking advice from others.

Others have suggested trying to get some counselling, which would help. From my own experience I would take the treatment the doctor has prescribed to help you. Such treatment does not have to be long term as others have already said. In the past I took antidepressants and they helped me.

I wish you well for the future.
Last edited:


Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
sign up for :


and also their preventing dementia. (Free)

also do 30 mins hard exercise per day ( Equivalent to one anti depressant tablet)
your choice, I hate all forms of exercise!


Registered User
Jan 27, 2013
Dear Chloe, I just wanted to message you to send you my very best wishes. It must be very difficult for you at an age when you are "supposed" to be carefree. I agree with the other posters - it is important as a carer to look after yourself, because only then will you be able to look after your mum in the way you would like. I second all those suggesting a short term course of mild antidepressants combined with counselling where you can unburden yourself, cry, express all your fears - it may help you start feeling stronger. Perhaps if you are very, very opposed to the medication, start with the counselling and see how you feel. But if you are self-harming, please do seriously consider what your GP advises. A lot of people just need that little extra help initially, and then they cope better. I think all of us who have/had a sick parent worry that we might go the same way, and that is hard. But I try not to think about it too much, as it doesn't do much good. Lastly, are there any support groups for young carers in your area? People in the same boat are often the best source of comfort and support. I hope you are able to have some quality you-time as well. Sending you warm wishes. Xxx