1. Both dementia and depression may present with apathy, poor concentration, and impaired memory. Cognitive deficits due to a mood disorder may appear to be dementia and is referred to as "pseudodementia."
2. Differentiation of dementia from depression can be difficult, especially in the elderly. Demented patients are often also depressed.
3. In depression, the mood symptoms should precede the development of cognitive deficits and in dementia, and the cognitive symptoms should precede the depression.
4. A medical evaluation to rule out treatable causes of dementia or medical causes of depression should be completed.
5. If the distinction between dementia and depression remains unclear, a trial of antidepressants is warranted because the prognosis for depression is much better than that of dementia. If the depression is superimposed on the dementia, treatment of the depression will improve the functional level of the patient.
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