Has Mum got depression or dementia

Discussion in 'Memory concerns and seeking a diagnosis' started by kelly50, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. kelly50

    kelly50 Registered User

    Jul 4, 2009
    East Northants
    Hello to anyone reading this.
    I have been a talking point member for a few years as my father had vascular dementia. It was a very difficult time and my mum really struggled to care for him and he could be pretty nasty towards her.
    Now, three and a half years later my family and I are facing the fact that she may have this terrible condition as well.
    About a year ago she started to feel 'flat'. She didn't enjoy her usual pastimes or going out with her friends. After a while she took herself off to GP who prescribed anti depressants, specifically Sertraline. After a few weeks there was a little improvement. Then slump again. The dose was increased. Improvement, then slump. The GP did a memory test and Mum had a referral to a memory clinic, which took weeks to sort out.
    To cut a long story short, she had a ct scan in the summer, saw 2 different specialists, and it was decided she didn't have dementia and was discharged. She was thrilled as all along she's been convinced she has it.
    However, it's now October and she's really gone downhill.
    She suffers terrible anxiety, she is convinced that her house is 'dirty', (it's not), she has no clothes, she can't decide what to wear,. She is walking around the house in scruffy baggy clothes, she has lost an awful lot of weight. She won't go out with her friends, or she makes herself, but there is much hand wringing before and afterwards as she thinks she is stupid. Money is another issue as she thinks every day there is none left.
    She has terrible feelings of 'doom' and thinks something terrible is going to happen (every day!). She cannot cope with cooking or operating the washing machine. She is tense all the time and also exhausted.
    Twice we have been back to GP, who is sympathetic and has done memory test again. She has been referred again and we are waiting for an appointment BUT, she is in a living hell, day in, day out.
    Does anyone recognise these symptoms from their own relatives? Is there a drug out there which would help her with her crippling anxiety and paranoia? Is it early dementia?
    Should I make a fuss with GP?.
    Any advice I'm grateful for.
  2. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    Morning, obviously I can only give you my opinion from my experience and as you say the GPis the person who will know better but from what you say your Mum sounds like my mum who has vascular dementia. She has similar way of thinking, can't use cooker, washing machine or microwave.

    She too has a depressed days and sometimes I find the start if the day starts ok but the depression fog descends if she feels like she is of no use, is stupid etc. she is on anti depression tablets too as are most dementia sufferers but anti depression tablets are also used for anxiety issues too not just depression. But be aware some anti depression tablets can also cause anxiety to rise.

    How about keeping a weeks diary about her, to show the doctor, before going to see her with your mum if you aren't comfortable saying it in front of her? List all her inabilities, her problems her daily struggles and what she says. Does she use the wrong words, or can't find words she wants etc? Does she sleep a lot , be it in a chair in the day or lay in until late? Appetite increased or decreased? Does she shuffle or is mobile? Make decisions easily?
    I would just add that my mum did get a diagnosis of her dementia but it hasn't helped in any way so far apart from the fact we have a label for it. No support forthcoming from her GP or anyone. My dad also has it but hasn't been diagnosed and refuses to admit it, and even some days thinks my mum is cured? Getting the diagnosis in some ways seems important and I can understand why you want it as you feel you know then what you are up against but in reality the problems won't change.

    Have you asked for an assessment from your local care authority, your GP maybe able to arrange this to get some support for you and her, day care centres etc.
    Please let us know how you get in and don't resist coming back for anymore advice you need as most of TPs have dealt with whatever it is.
  3. kelly50

    kelly50 Registered User

    Jul 4, 2009
    East Northants
    Depression fog

    Yes, thankyou for your words. The term 'depression fog' is perfect as that is how my mum describes it. She shakes her head a lot and does this deep trembly sigh when faced with the smallest decision and I feel pitifully sorry for her.
    I will try a diary, but on last visit to GP I did tell her most of the things that were happening (in front of Mum), and she offered to change the pills or increase the ones she had. My mum is worse first thing, it seems to lift very slightly when someone is with her during the day or she is out, but it all returns in the evening.
    I think I want her diagnosed so that she has the correct meds (I know it's not going to go away but just not be so terrible for her),but also more things will be available like care visits and meals made. I'm Only with her so much as I'm out of work, but I'm hoping it won't be too long before I have a job, and she will be on her own much more which I dread.
  4. maryw

    maryw Registered User

    Nov 16, 2008
    #4 maryw, Oct 16, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
    The handwringing and the money issue resonate with me as my Mum had similar symptoms. She always shone at the GP visit, scored 23/30 at MMSE and the GP used to say she did not have dementia, merely infection or inflammation in the body. Things got worse, much worse, confusion over meals, night and day etc and eventually she was admitted to hospital where I finally heard the words "vascular dementia". She was put on anti-depressants but nothing else. It can be so hard to get the diagnosis. Keeping a diary is the best, perhaps ask for a referral to a neurologist and an MRI scan, but that might provoke more anxiety and to what purpose ....

    You may be better just keeping things calm and reassuring her and telling her "it must be difficult for her" so her feelings are validated. That is relevant whether it is depression or dementia.
  5. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    I'm my dad's carer and have been for 6yrs. He has dementia.
    You could be talking to my mum absolutely.
    I took her to the gp. She has always kinda been depressed and never had confidence to do anything. My dad cared for her for 30yrs and now he can't without struggles...
    My mum doesn't sleep hardly at night since I can rember but now sleeps in the day. My dad still does cooking cleaning washing putting on line money etc. He struggles but we can't get her to do anything. Hardly do any calls..never cooks..sits in her chair watching depressing trash.
    We be had hardtimes with meds overdoses . ..and my mum's in different place. No emotional response.
    Took her to gp as she didn't know shed been to a place two days before or ate the same meal three times..gp did bloods at my request. No infection and b12 and thiamin ok!
    Referred to memory clinic.
    Still not recalling things she always would. Convinced in her head she's supervising everything in relation to my dad!

    We've got 2nd appointment in December. I keep a diary and with my dad he was left too long and not diagnosed properly for too long. It was cruel. I'm going to stand my ground. Even of I get 2nd 3rd 4th opi ion
    Best wishes
  6. Dayperson

    Dayperson Registered User

    Feb 18, 2015
    My dad and I are wondering whether mums illness is depression or dementia or a mixture of both. She's been getting gradually worse since she had an operation around 8 years ago and we think that could have been the cause although her dad also had altheimers in his later years.

    Recently it's as though her brain just switches off from time to time and she does things without thinking i.e. she put my pills into her pot of pills while I went to get my breakfast this morning. Luckily I caught her before she took them but I think I'll have to give her the pills just before she takes them.

    I decided that I didn't want my sweets because I didn't want them so I left them on the table and she took them for herself but then offered me them forgetting they were originally mine and I said I didn't want them. Dad said she also asked where hers were and took his without asking.

    Mum also does seem to be unable to make simple decisions or will ask something which is obvious i.e. where is the milk when there is only one in the fridge.
  7. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    My Husband was diagnosed with depression with psychosis; he was forever being told that he didn't have dementia even though he was having a problem with his memory. I'm ashamed to say that I believed the experts-I shouldn't have as he had AD. The extent of his brain damage also led to him having a co diagnosis of bipolar. He was later also diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

    The only thing that you can really do is to keep asking for assessments for your Mum.

    I'm so sorry that you are having these worries with your Mum after seeing your Dad go through Vascular Dementia.

    Take care and try to keep posting for support

    Lyn T XX
  8. kelly50

    kelly50 Registered User

    Jul 4, 2009
    East Northants
    Update on previous posts

    Thanks very much for comments, it's interesting how everyone differs under the dementia umbrella.
    I just want to add that after another miserable saga this morning from mum, I phoned the surgery requesting a call from her GP. When GP rang, I told her things were very bad and Mum wanted someone to take her away and lock her up.
    We went to the appointment at 3.30, and thank goodness we did. This time Mum poured everything out, even admitting she had tried to make herself fall down the stairs! I was completely shocked and upset. She is so desperate!
    GP listened carefully, she then arranged for the crisis team to visit next week, and a mental health nurse will visit. She has also prescribed lozerpram(Valium?) on a short term basis.
    I'm pretty convinced it is dementia. Especially when she told the doctor she thinks she will be arrested for not looking after her property. Let's hope the Valium will give her a break from her worries .
  9. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Thank goodness the GP took your Mum seriously and started to get some help/diagnosis for your Mum.

    Good luck with getting some support next week.

    Take care

    Lyn T XX

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