Fast Five Quiz: Alzheimer Disease Differential Diagnosis and Workup

Jasvinder P. Chawla, MD, MBA


May 23, 2019

"Pseudodementia" refers to cognitive impairment that mimics dementia. Although a variety of underlying disorders may cause pseudodementia, the most common cause is depression, which is often referred to as depressive pseudodementia (DPD). Unlike Alzheimer disease, the cognitive effects associated with DPD often can be reversed when patients receive treatment for their depression.

The effects of depression and Alzheimer disease can cause symptom overlap: Approximately 30%-50% of patients with Alzheimer disease also suffer from depression. However, patients with Alzheimer disease often exhibit depression as apathy, fatigue, and low motivation, whereas depression in elderly patients without dementia typically manifests as mood changes (eg, feelings of sadness), suicidal thoughts, and sleep and appetite changes.

Anxiety, psychosis, and acute encephalopathy are not likely mimics of pseudodementia.

For more on depression in Alzheimer disease, read here.


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