Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are Not the Same

Do you get confused when people use these terms? Alzheimer’s and Dementia are interchangeably used so much these days that one can easy mistaken it to have the same meaning. Well, it’s not. While one may form a part of the other, but Alzheimer’s and Dementia are not the same. Here’s an analogy to help to understand and decipher the difference between the two medical terms.

A quick analogy for illustration

Say one day you cough and sneeze a lot but you are unsure why. Since it’s summer you don’t have a cold. So you go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor checks your breathing and orders a series of tests to help decide the cause. After the test results come in, the doctor is sure what is causing the sneezes. The diagnosis is that you have developed an allergy. It’s the summer and the most common allergy could be due to pollen in the air, etc.

Are you wondering where Alzheimer’s and Dementia come into play here? Well, perhaps you want to read the illustration again because the allergy is the diagnosis – which is dementia. A cough and sneeze are symptoms like memory loss and we’ll talk more about it in a just a bit. The pollen or one cause for dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. Go ahead, read the analogy again to get a fair idea.

Why it’s important to know the difference

Dementia impacts memory, performance to do things, and communication. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that affects memory and language and gets worse with time. The symptoms, causes and the effects of both Alzheimer’s and Dementia are different. It’s important that you know the difference for management and treatment of the two degenerative diseases. Let’s get to know them one by one.

Dementia is the umbrella term

First, dementia is a syndrome which is a bunch of symptoms. Dementia affects the brain and attacks memory and reasoning of the individual. It is an umbrella under which the Alzheimer’s disease falls. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes for the development of dementia. Not the other way around.

There are many types of dementia because it may stem from different causes. No matter the cause, as dementia progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual to function independently. Although young people can develop dementia, it’s one of the biggest concerns for the elderly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 47 million people affected by dementia all over the world. and Indian houses close to 4.1 million of them. These numbers are expected to double every two decades.

What are the symptoms and causes of dementia?

It is hard to know the symptoms at first because they are not easily seen. You forget where you put the keys or if you have turned off the gas or to switch off the geyser. It starts with simple forgetfulness that seems like an everyday thing. Those having dementia seem to lose track of time.

With time, as the forgetfulness increases so does confusion. People struggle with remembering names and connect faces and eventually, show obvious signs when personal hygiene becomes a problem too. Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

  • Asking same questions repeatedly
  • Questionable hygiene
  • Poor skills for decision-making
  • Difficulty in recalling names and recognising faces
  • Depression
  • Aggression

 Dementia is more likely to occur with age and one of the leading causes if damaged brain cells which are caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Around 70% of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s. Other causes include HIV, stroke, depression or drugs.

Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no known cure for the Alzheimer’s disease and the exact cause it yet to be determined. This is a progressive disease wherein; the damaged cells in the brain impair memory and cognitive function. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are seen after the age of 60 years, although even young people get it too. When it occurs in the elderly, it can be fatal almost within three years of the diagnoses. For young people, it may take longer.

While there is memory and cognitive loss even with the Alzheimer’s disease, just as in dementia, there are other symptoms, which include:

  • Struggle to recall events and conversations
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Struggle to speak, swallow and walking

Overlapping Treatments

Since dementia may have multiple causes such as chronic drug use, stroke, tumor metabolic or thyroid disorders, the treatment of these cases is likely to go well. These are reversible causes. However, irreversible dementia has not treatment to help stop it or cure it.

For Alzheimer’s there is no known treatment. But some antipsychotic medication, pills for memory, sleep, and depression may help the symptoms to be manageable. However, Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness. Depending on the age, the time to death may vary. Some young people live with Alzheimer’s for two decades, others older than 80 years may die within three years of diagnoses.

If you are not sure about the symptoms you or your loved ones may have, speak to your doctor. Getting on the right treatment plan will help you manage the symptoms better.

 

Let’s Talk About Mental Health Issues

Mental health talk is anything but easy to talk about. How can I talk about depression when I have a well-paying job? Or if people know that I’m prone to anxiety, will that affect my appraisal? Some even assume talking about mental health may affect their marriage prospects! These are legitimate concerns to talking about mental health issues. Well, not talking about it keeps you in the dark.

Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to your overall health. It’s time we address the pink elephant in the room and that elephant could be depressed, may have a bipolar disorder or could be stressed to the core.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 6% of Indian population, regardless of being urban or rural, suffers from a serious form of mental disease. It may seem small, but this figure is likely to increase every year.

Some Legitimate Concerns

A mentally fit person may experience high cholesterol or low blood pressure. In a similar way, a perfectly healthy person may face some minor mental issues. You don’t necessarily have to swing on either side of the pendulum. That is going extreme, although major mental health issues need immediate treatment. Nevertheless, it is not a question of either or. You can be a normal person with minor health issues which is more likely treatable too.

If you or your loved one struggles with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, it doesn’t mean they are lesser human beings. Just like a person with diabetes can be mentally strong, a person with mental health issues can be physically fit too.

Another concern is that people with mental health issues tend to be violent. This is not true at all. Many picture a mentally ill patient getting electric shock treatments and living in mental asylums. You must know that poverty, drug abuse, etc. are actually the contributing factors to violent crimes. People with mental health issues are not violent.

Bad parenting affecting mental health is a legitimate concern. This is a big weight of worrying parents who want to give their best to children. You must know that children with the best upbringing may also suffer from mental health issues. That has nothing to do with parenting styles but everything to do with genes or their external and internal interactions.

In that context, mental health issues are never a reflection of the person’s moral character. It’s not because of voodoo or black magic; personality or anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental illnesses can result from a hormonal or neurological imbalance in your body, for example how postpartum depression after childbirth.

The Unseen Struggles

Mental health issues are often bolted deep and never talked about or even thought about in our society. Addiction to smoking, alcohol or even self-medication is a common struggle. If you feel depressed or stressed, it is easier to go have a smoke or drink alcohol. It “treats” your pain for the moment. Excessive use of any substance, even coffee for that matter, is a big problem. To be honest, not everyone takes their mental health needs seriously these days. Is it because there are no “visible” signs of mental illness? It is not like getting a fever or stomach ache. Many avoid getting treatment because of this. So that should not stop you from getting help, getting treatment for your mental health issues.

Work as a Contributing Factor

Everyone faces a lot of stress at every walk of life. Think about the baby who is just learning how to walk. They stand up and wobble to find their balance and plop! They are on the floor, again. Babies are resilient that way; they get up and try again. It must frustrate you but this kind of stress in small doses is good. It motivates you and this is the exact stress that boosts productivity at workplaces. You don’t have to imagine what stress at long period does to your mental and physical health. With long working hours, short weekends, unreasonable deadlines you eventually burn out and break yourself, right? And to think this innuendo is costing employers $300 billion a year!

A Supportive Workplace

It makes more business sense to prioritise employees’ well-being. The staff that works in a supportive environment with approachable HR representatives, line managers, and senior managers are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal. This is more to do with encouraging employees to openly talk about their mental issues, than being polite or following policies.

Students, employees, employers, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, mothers, toddlers, everyone faces a lot of pressure these days. Pressure to excel, pressure to perform, pressure to make more profits and the pressure to raise kids in an expensive digital world. While some want to conquer the world, their mental health issues are put on a back burner. If you are under a lot of stress, it’s time to get help before it’s too late. Do you or your loved ones struggle with mental health issues? Remember, with counseling and therapy, these issues are treatable. Tell your loved ones you worry about their health. Be encouraged to adopt the right treatment for mental health problems.

Financial Anxiety Is Real – How to Cope?

It’s been a month now that Sheela hasn’t slept well. Almost every day, she wakes up in the middle of the night and her mind veers to the long list of bills she needs to pay for the month, concerns about sudden illness, accidents etc. Before she knows it, she gets into a panic mode with a sick feeling in the stomach and racing heart and ends up staying awake all night without accomplishing anything out of it. She is going through financial anxiety. Just like Sheela, there are many who stress about money management on a daily basis. According to the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of people go through stress due to a financial crisis. The reasons for suffering from financial disability could be many. Maybe you have a loan that you need to pay off, maybe you are in the middle of shifting jobs or maybe you just end up spending all your money by the end of the month without any savings. Instability regarding money matters can lead to a lot of stress. And this, in turn, can affect your body and lead to the beginning of other health problems. In the times when the economy was unraveling, it is obvious to be a bit concerned about one’s financial well-being. However, it should not hamper your overall well-being. Hence, it is very important that you take a step back, address the issues at hand and find out ways and means to cope with them.

Here are some ways in which you can keep your financial anxiety under control and manage the stress –

1) Make notes about your monthly spends:
A lot of times, you may keep a certain budget for every month stating the overall amount you are planning to spend. However, all of the life’s expenses are barely constant and it is obvious that the expenses can fluctuate. Hence, be sure to make a note about the money you spend along with the date and what you spent it for. Go over your bills and ensure that the numbers are accurate. While you are at it, set aside some money to an emergency fund. This can be useful in times when you have a health situation, a car repair, a sudden vacation or any other unpredictable events.

2) Stop comparing yourself to others:
As human beings, the idea of comparison has been rooted in us. But with money matters, the lesser you compare the better you will feel about what you own. While a friend may seem to be enjoying life to the fullest, you do not know what is in his bank account. You are not aware of all the facts as you use what they showcase on channels such as Facebook and Instagram to get an idea about their lifestyle and how they live. Any such comparison is very unhealthy and may instigate you to spend more money just because someone else is.

3) Don’t be embarrassed:
If you have less money or are saving up most of your salary for a secure future, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. You may have less money to spend today but you are avoiding suffering from a crisis situation later. At times, a past occurrence of financial mismanagement, incorrect budgeting or ignorance may lead to shame and can initiate a cycle of anxiety and future problems. This may even lead to money avoidance and the unwillingness to deal with money matters.

4) Be more informed:
Money is a constant need in all phases of your life. And the more informed you are about the ways in which you can save it, the happier you will be. If you want to save money for retirement or for your child’s future, research the options and accumulate all the information together. Choose the one that is going to yield the best results and start investing every month. Signing up for a course or taking advice from a friend or relative can also help. When you have all the information at hand, you will feel much more confident about your future.

5) Approach an advisor:
Getting professional help from advisors can definitely help you calm down your worries since they can tell you whether you are following the right path or not. They can also give you suggestions for newer saving schemes or policies which you may not be aware of. Tax reduction is another benefit that you can get by planning your investments. Financial advisors can make their way around loopholes to provide you with the best possible means of availing tax benefits. Just be clear about your goals and your current situation with the advisors and they can take care of the rest.

Financial anxiety is a problem that cannot be solved by taking any medicines or undergoing a surgery. To get yourself together, you need to be mentally strong, calm your worries and feel confident about your financial choices. That is the only way you will be able to avoid the anxious feeling and look forward to a brighter future!

Know Depression, If You Ever Have to Face It

A study conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on “Preventive Healthcare: Impact on Corporate Sector” reveals something very shocking – it states that around 42.5 percent of the corporate employees suffer from depression or general anxiety disorder! This report is based on the view of 1,250 corporate employees across companies in different sectors.

Several other studies show that at some or the other point in their lives, 10-25% women and 5-12% of men are likely to be clinically depressed. So much so, that doctors and researchers have even started referring to it as a ‘common cold’. It not only causes difficulty for those who suffer from it but also puts their friends and family members in a paralytic situation because of not knowing how they can help.

So what exactly is clinical depression? It is more than just experiencing temporary feelings of sadness or anxiety. It’s a condition in which the victim’s mind and body are severely affected, impacting aspects of his daily life such as eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and what he thinks of himself. What is worse is that there is no way they can simply force themselves to feel better or snap out of their situation. Lack of appropriate treatment can keep them suffering for weeks, months or even years.

However, the upside of it is that once the person accepts or knows that he is depressed, very effective treatments are available for his treatment. Only one-third of the people suffering from it know about it and are ready to seek treatment. Truth is that 80-90% of those who seek treatment can feel better just within a few weeks. But the problem lies in acceptance. People feel that being depressed is a result of personal weakness or a flaw in the character. This is just a myth. Similar to other diseases like diabetes or heart problems, depression is an illness that needs to be treated by a health professional or physician.

There are various types of depression such as Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, Substance-Induced Mood Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Postpartum Depression, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Some of these are the milder forms of it while some have some major side effects and need a close diagnosis. To identify the issue, you need to know the symptoms of depression. Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness
  • Low levels of energy and fatigue
  • Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Losing weight or appetite, or gaining weight and overeating
  • Feeling hopeless and pessimistic
  • Feeling helpless and worthless
  • Attempting suicide
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate, make decisions or remember
  • Restlessness, irritability, and perpetual crying

People who are depressed may not always experience all of the above symptoms. Some may have many and some may have just a few. If you or any of your closed ones happen to experience some of them for a long period of time or have doubts about whether it is depression or not, it is best to consult a physician or qualified mental health professional and get it diagnosed.

Being depressed can have some serious adverse effects on the life of the sufferer. It can end up impairing their ability to sleep, eat, work, and act normal in a social environment. It can damage their self-esteem, self-confidence, and the ability to perform daily tasks. They may tire easily, not get a good night’s sleep, and have no motivation left in life.

So keeping a daily check on health and consulting the doctor at the right time in case of any of the symptoms is the best thing to do, rather than sulking in the situation and making it worse with every passing day.