Dementia Care Site Map
Depression & Dementia


Depression can be common among people with dementia.


Depression can make it harder for a person with dementia to remember things and enjoy their life. It can also add to the difficulty of caring for someone with dementia.


What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common of all mental health problems. One in five people experience depression at some stage of their lives.


While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time and often without reason. People with depression find it hard to function every day and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed.


Beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance misuse disorders in Australia. They describe depression as more than just a low mood - it is a serious illness, and it is likely to get worse if left untreated.


Signs of depression

The signs of depression can include poor sleep, poor appetite, lack of energy and feelings of guilt. Depression may also be a side-effect of medication. Signs of depression may include:


  • Being unusually emotional, crying, angry or agitated
  • Increased irritability and frustration
  • Spending less time with friends and family than previously
  • Being awake throughout the night
  • Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
  • Slowing down of thoughts and actions - lack of energy
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness and sadness
  • Increased confusion


Diagnosing depression

If the person is experiencing some of the symptoms of depression they should contact their local doctor. The doctor will be able to carry out a thorough examination to rule out other medical conditions.


Medication, such as an anti-depressant, may be prescribed and can be very helpful in improving the symptoms of depression such as appetite and insomnia. The doctor can also refer the person to other health care specialists.


It is important to remember that where depression is suspected, assistance should be sought as soon as possible, so that the person can get the necessary treatment and begin to start feeling well again.


Helping people with depression

  • The person may have difficulty expressing their needs and desires. Try and identify what it is they would like. Encourage the person to talk about how they feel and be there to listen.
  • Provide a calm environment in which the person can follow a familiar routine. Together plan a predictable daily routine, taking advantage of the person's best time of day to undertake tasks, such as bathing and dressing.
  • Try to keep the environment calm and familiar. People with depression can become upset if they find themselves in a strange situation or among a group of unfamiliar people. This could exacerbate their negative feelings.
  • Involve the person in a meaningful activity, eg. play their favourite music, or reminisce about a happy occasion that they remember or you can enjoy baking a cake together. Stay positive, if possible!
  • Make a list of activities, people or places that the person enjoys now and plan these things more frequently.
  • Encourage the person to exercise regularly; gentle exercise such as walking or swimming may assist in improving the person's quality of life.
  • Take each day as it comes and try not to expect too much from the person. Involve them in decisions and encourage them to make their own choices, if possible.


Support services for people with depression and their family

  • Your Doctor or Health Professional


  • beyondblue - The national depression initiative.





Telephone: 1800 699 799.


  • Mental Health Services Crisis line (24hour)                     

 Telephone: 1300 363 322