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Talk Therapy for Dementia

Talk therapy may improve symptoms of depression for people with dementia, providing hope for those who typically do not benefit from antidepressant medication.
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Feelings of anxiety and depression are common in people living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, but the best way to treat these symptoms is currently unknown, as the medicines often used to treat these symptoms may not be effective for people with dementia and may cause side effects.

The findings of the Cochrane Review paper are important because it is the first review showing that psychological interventions (talking therapies) are effective and worthwhile in the context of ineffective drugs for depression in dementia.

The review also shows they may provide additional benefit in terms of improving patient quality of life and everyday function.

The researchers are calling for clinical guidelines for dementia to be revised to recommend psychological therapies, and specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Antidepressants don’t work for everyone

Lead author Dr Vasiliki Orgeta (Associate Professor at UCL Psychiatry) said: “We currently have no standard treatments for depression for people with dementia, as antidepressants do not work for them. Yet, despite the lack of supporting evidence, they are still prescribed for many people living with dementia, which is an important problem given that more and more evidence is accumulating suggesting that not only they do not improve symptoms, but they may increase risk of mortality.”

“Previous evidence into the clinical effectiveness of psychological treatments has been limited. Reporting on the most up to date evidence, we found that these treatments, and specifically those focusing around supporting people with dementia to use strategies to reduce distress and improve wellbeing, are effective in reducing symptoms of depression.”

People with dementia are twice as likely as other people their age to be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.

Studies have estimated that 16% of people with dementia experience depression, but this may be as high as 40%, so there is a great need for effective treatments. Depression and anxiety can also increase the severity of the neurological impairment itself, thus reducing independence and increasing the risk of entering long-term care.

Support wellbeing, reduce stress

“Our findings break the stigma that psychological treatments are not worthwhile for people living with cognitive impairment and dementia, and show that we need to invest in more research in this area and work towards increasing access to psychological services for people with dementia across the globe,” Dr. Ortega said.

“We want people who experience cognitive impairment and dementia to have the same access to mental health treatments as everyone else.”

The paper, published by the Cochrane Library as part of their database of systematic reviews, incorporated evidence from 29 trials of psychological treatments for people with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, including close to 2,600 study participants in total.

The psychological interventions varied somewhat, including CBT and supportive and counselling interventions, but were generally aimed at supporting wellbeing, reducing distress, and improving coping.

Clinical support for talk therapy

The review shows that psychological treatments for people with dementia may improve not only depressive symptoms but several other outcomes, such as quality of life and the ability to carry out everyday activities. Although more research is needed, the study found that these treatments may also improve depression remission.

The authors say the potential of improving many outcomes with one psychological intervention may be highly cost-effective and could be key to improving quality of life and wellbeing for people with dementia.

The authors judged the evidence to be of moderate quality overall, meaning it is of high enough quality to warrant clinical recommendations to support the use of psychological therapies. They say that larger studies are needed, as they may be able to identify a more substantial effect.

“There is now good enough quality evidence to support the use of psychological treatments for people with dementia, rather than prescribing medications, and without the risk of drug side effects,” said co-author Dr. Phuong Leung of UCL Psychiatry.

Need for novel treatment in dementia

“What we need now is more clinicians opting for talk therapies for their patients and commitment to funding further high-quality research in this area,” Dr. Leung added.

“Pharmacological treatments in dementia have been prioritized in trials for many years; as a result, they benefit from more investment, so it will be important to invest more in studying psychological treatments,” said Dr. Orgeta.

“There is a need for novel treatments, specifically developed alongside people with dementia, their families, and those contributing to their care.”


MORE INFO:

The review was conducted by researchers from UCL, University of Nottingham, Universidad de Jaén, and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, and was supported by the National Institute for Health Research.

SOURCE:

Cochrane Library

ARTICLE:

Psychological treatments for depression and anxiety in dementia and mild cognitive impairment

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Norma Woodsons
Norma Woodsons
February 23, 2024 4:36 pm

As a reader, I found this blog post on talk therapy for dementia to be insightful and informative. It highlights the importance of communication and emotional support for individuals living with dementia, which can greatly enhance their quality of life.

One aspect that struck me is the emphasis on the benefits of talk therapy in improving cognitive function and emotional well-being. This aligns with what I’ve learned about online therapy platforms like Calmerry.

Calmerry offers convenient and accessible online therapy services, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Through Calmerry’s https://calmerry.com/online-therapy/ platform, individuals can access professional support from licensed therapists who specialize in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based approaches.

For those living with dementia, online therapy can provide a safe and comfortable environment to express their thoughts and emotions, as well as learn coping strategies to manage their condition. Additionally, caregivers can also benefit from online therapy by receiving guidance and support in managing the challenges associated with caring for a loved one with dementia.

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P. Berger

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. It has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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