New Therapies to Help Individuals with Dementia to Cope with Depression

Many patients with cognitive impairment have anxiety or depression, but standard treatments are difficult for people with memory issues.  A recent article published in the New York Times reports on this complicated issue.
Early research on new approaches to treat depression in people with early to moderate dementia is promising.  One such approach developed at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and White Plains, N.Y., focuses on solving tangible problems that fuel feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It incorporates tools, like checklists, calendars, signs and videos, to make it accessible for people with memory issues. A caregiver is often involved. 
Because some people with mild cognitive impairment can have trouble remembering what day it is, a novel approach called Another – the Peaceful Mind program, developed by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and elsewhere simplifies traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and focuses on scheduling pleasurable activities and skills, like deep breathing. Therapy sessions are short and take place in patients’ homes.
While Another program designed by researchers at University College London gives cards to individuals with dementia to remind them of key strategies. One that says “Stop and Think” prompts them to pause when they have panicky and unhelpful thoughts to help keep those thoughts from spiraling and creating more anxiety.
While there was a time when someone could do nothing about treating the depression short of medication, today as one patient expresses her hope, “It’s like, ‘O.K., Anne, what are you going to do about it?’”
A version of this article appears in print on 
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