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Difficulties with diagnosis of dementia vs. major depression

As the baby-boomer generation gets older, it is imperative for clinicians and psychologists to be able to recognize pathological states that look like dementia, and others that do not. As we grow older, the potential to develop different pathologies that are neurological in origin increases exponentially, and therefore, it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish what might be a sign or symptom of old age, and what might be a sign of dementia. Further, it is known that one of the leading problems in people with dementia is loss of cognitive function, namely, hippocampus-related learning and memory processes. Additionally, some other pathological states, such as major depression, may also affect normal learning and memory function, and for that reason it is difficult to assess, without examining the brain itself post-mortem, whether a person is affected by Alzheimer's disease or not.

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Only recently, researchers investigated the temporal relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment in aged subjects, and it was found that depressive symptoms recorded during baseline testing, in cognitively unimpaired older subjects, predicted a global decline in memory recall during later testing (Panza et al., 2009). In other words, these data showed that depressive symptoms at baseline are associated with an accelerated global memory function ...

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The response compares the difficulties of diagnoses between dementia and major depression in older people.