What is pseudodementia and why it shouldn't be confused with Alzheimer's: “This is a reversible disease.” Here are the symptoms to look out for

May be confused with a form of depressionand or, worse still, Alzheimer's disease. Some symptoms are actually similar. Let's talk about Pseudodementiaa pathology that is not included in the official diagnostic systems and is the subject of controversial analysis. However, the term is used to distinguish it from other forms of irreversible mental and cognitive deterioration, while pseudodementia can be treated with some effectiveness.


The first question to be answered is: What are the typical symptoms to recognize pseudodementia in a patient and what are the differences from actual forms of dementia? “Symptoms of pseudodementia include difficulty concentrating, distractibility, memory problems, difficulty finding words, Disorientation, character changes and difficulty carrying out everyday activities,” he replies IlFattoQuotidiano.it the teacher Cecilia Perin, Head of the Clinical Operational Unit for Specialized Rehabilitation of Severe Brain Injuries at the Zucchi Clinical Institutes in Carate Brianza and Director of the Technical School of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine of the University of Milan-Bicocca. “These are symptoms that appear gradually and can progress progressively, as in the case of dementia; or present themselves subtly or suddenly, It also shows a rather discontinuous trend, as is the case with depression. In addition, pseudodementia diseases may be associated with other symptoms not normally associated with true dementia, especially of a physical nature: Headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite and insomnia. In addition, there may be character changes, demotivation and pessimistic outlook, as in the case of depression, and signs related to changes in blood tests, such as: a change in thyroid function or vitamin deficiencyand especially vitamins of group B”.

Is it true that the symptoms can be confused with, for example, Alzheimer's or a form of depression?

“If a person complains of the symptoms described above, it is necessary to immediately include in the differential diagnosis the possibility of Alzheimer's disease and other situations that can lead to problems with cognitive functions. This is particularly important because treatable forms such as pseudodementia can partially or completely regress with appropriate treatment.”.

Causes and difficulties of diagnosis

What are the causes?

“The most common are: depression, thyroid disease (hypothyroidism) or a change in fluid pressure in the brain (normal-pressure hydrocephalus).”

Are false diagnoses common in pseudodementia? What critical issues may you encounter?

Normally It is very easy to make a diagnosis using neuropsychological testing, blood chemistry and radiological testing. However, especially when it comes to depression, the two forms of dementia and depression coexist and influence each other. In this case, treatment of depression and progression of symptoms over time can allow a correct diagnosis. In fact, very often we find that Alzheimer's disease begins in the form of a depressive syndrome, but the treatment is inconclusive and cognitive decline continues over time. It should be noted that the diagnostic process is almost never very rapid and often requires months of observations to distinguish between the association of two diseases rather than the exclusion of one or the other.”


How is pseudodementia most successfully treated?

Elimination of the causes. True depression treated with antidepressants allows us to see an improvement over time in neuropsychological tests and the scales useful for studying the ability to independently carry out everyday actions. In the case of hypothyroidism, pharmacological therapy allows a return to previous cognitive levels and in the case of normal pressure hydrocephalus, the CSF-based neurosurgical procedure returns the cognitive and motor symptoms.”

What other advice can you give to guide people toward safer diagnoses?

“In case of cognitive difficultiesIt is important that a person contact centers for diagnosis and treatment of cognitive disorders and dementia (abbreviation: CDCD), which initiates the diagnostic process that begins with neuropsychological tests, a series of blood chemistry and neuroradiological tests on which there is general consensus.

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