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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
Southern England
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


New member
Aug 10, 2020
Hi @chloehvy

I am reaching out as I am in a similar situation to you. I am currently 21 and my mum was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at 53. It has had a real impact on my mental health and I am worried about potentially inheriting it too. I have been in touch with my GP and medication is definitely an option - but short-term.

Always here if you want to reach out.

Best wishes,



Registered User
Mar 15, 2020
the way i see it is that if you had a physical injury first would be treatment of the injury so its the same if you are depressed you reach out for treatment. i have had them a long time but modern antidepressants are better acting than years ago. if you are self-harming, you really need to find an alternate way of dealing with your depression. dont let it become the only way you can see of showing or expressing the hurt inside. ive been there and still go there but less frequently as i have other methods to use so its not always the go to method. have you got numbers you can call when you feel like that and can phone someone to bring it down and things like steps to wellbeing or equivalent you can self-refer or MIND. dont sit by yourself


Registered User
Oct 17, 2015
@chloehvy Sorry you’re feeling so awful. But there will be something out there for you, it’s just a question of finding it.

When I had depression & anxiety a few years ago I searched far and wide for something that would help (online - not IRL, I could barely cope with leaving the house!) and I found some things that worked for me and many things that didn’t. Some people would swear by this or that drug or book, others said the same drug/book was utterly useless. Everybody has their own unique response to something.

The book that first helped me was by David Burns called Feeling Good - definitely worth a try. Then I had talking therapy (CBT), which also really worked for me (possibly not an option right now due to covid?). Guided Meditation mp3‘s worked wonders for my anxiety (many available free to download). You have to find what works for you as an individual. Drugs didn’t work at all for me, but others swear by them.

Being a carer is hard and being a carer during a global pandemic is even harder. Take care of yourself and keep looking for something that speaks to you. Help is out there.


Registered User
Mar 15, 2020
im waiting for CBT mainly for pain and they are doing phone appts which not sure will work as learn more from seeing body language and expressions. have had CAT in the past face to face and that didnt work for me. DBT dialectic behaviour therapy worked better as its for those that self-harm more as need to find a method before you get to that point.


New member
May 31, 2021
Hi Chloe,

I saw your other posts and was keen to respond to you as I’m in a very similar situation to you, I’m 25 and my mum was diagnose 3 years ago with Alzheimer’s at the age of 56.

I also have very low days where my emotions (which I mostly bottle up) all come flooding out in lots of crying by myself in my bedroom. I’ve found recently that I feel better after talking (or just crying) to a friend and admitting to myself that I’m not ok with what’s going on but at the same time I can still soldiering on.

Mirroring the other comments on here, I think you should take the prescription if your doctor thinks it will help. It doesn’t need to be a long term fix if you pair it with talking to others about your situation and giving yourself time to take a break and do some activities that you enjoy and that will take your mind off your mum for a bit. You have to look after yourself as well as her ❤️

Sending thoughts and prayers.. if you are interested in talking one on one I would be happy to - I can imagine we would have a lot of similar pain points x

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