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Dementia diagnosis brings relief, not depression
Date:3/3/2008

imer's Disease Research Center.

"Nobody wants to hear the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, but even that is preferable to recognizing there's a problem and not knowing what it is. At least having the diagnosis allows people to make plans for the future, including treatment as appropriate."

One reason an Alzheimer's diagnosis can be comforting to both family members and patients, suggests Carpenter, is that it provides an explanation for what's been going on with the patient. Caregivers, he notes, are often quick to attribute symptoms of dementia to the person, rather than the disease, and patients wonder if they are going "crazy." This study confirms that most patients, regardless of their degree of impairment, tend to experience a sense of relief after getting their diagnosis.

Patients in this 2007 study came from the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University. Individuals calling the Center were informed of the study and could choose to participate. Subjects were then interviewed prior to their appointment at the Center and questioned about their mood, family history and expectations for their upcoming exam. After extensive neurological examination, a diagnosis was delivered to the patients and their caregivers and videotaped for the purposes of the study.Patients and caregivers were then called two days after their appointment and asked the same questions about mood, anxiety, and the results of their diagnosis. This study is one of the first where caregivers have also been asked about mood and emotions."In this current study, we were interested in gauging psychological reactions shortly after receiving the diagnosis," Carpenter says. "That's why we did the follow-up phone call within a couple of days of their evaluation."Most clinical practice guidelines instruct physicians to tell patients when they suspect Alzheimer's or dementia.

"It's just taking awhile for the clinicians to catch up," says Carpenter.


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Contact: Brian Carpenter
bcarpenter@wustl.edu
314-935-8212
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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