How is pseudodementia differentiated from early-stage Alzheimer disease (AD) in Down syndrome (DS)?

Updated: Nov 13, 2019
  • Author: Norberto Alvarez, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

The term pseudodementia is used to describe reversible cognitive impairment associated with psychiatric disease—usually depression. With treatment and amelioration of the psychiatric disease, cognition returns to baseline. In patients without DS, many patients who develop AD have symptoms of depression in the early stages of disease, and the depression itself can impair cognitive function.

Treatment of the depression (usually with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]) often improves mood and sometimes cognition. However, over the following 24-36 months, progressive cognitive impairment, not necessarily accompanied by mood disturbances, becomes clear. Data are not available on depression in patients with DS and AD.


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