Managing anxiety and depression in a person living with dementia

A person with dementia experiencing anxiety may pace up and down, fidget or become agitated. They might follow a person they live with around the house, seeking reassurance, and may want to go to a place they feel safe.

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or unease. It is a normal feeling for all of us, to an extent, but it can become so intense that it gets in the way of everyday life. People experiencing anxiety might feel like they are out of control, and experience physical symptoms including palpitations, sweating, headaches and panic attacks. Anxiety can affect sleep patterns, appetite, concentration and a loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed.

Depression is when low mood and feelings of being helpless and hopeless are persistent for long periods of time. It can change how a person feels both physically and emotionally. Like anxiety, it can affect sleep patterns, appetite and a loss of interest in activities the person previously enjoyed. Depression can cause tearfulness, poor concentration and make a person feel extremely fatigued. It may also bring on general pains, headaches, loss of libido, a feeling of isolation and thoughts about self-harm and suicide.

It is more usual for a person to experience either anxiety or depression, but it is possible to experience both at the same time.

For more information on depression and anxiety and dementia visit the Dementia UK website