DELIRIUM, DEMENTIA and
Learn More > Depression, Dementia, Delirium
The 3 D's . . . can all manifest with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Indeed, just differentiating mood symptoms for the first two, depression and dementia, can be challenging. Select the left image to enlarge and then compare the similarities and differences. Your physician might be interested in the image at the right, it details some differential diagnostic pathways for depression and selected neuropathologies.
In our culture, the three terms are often used casually and incorrectly, such as "She's just delirious," or "I think he's demented," or "They're always depressed" . . . yet in everyday practice, each are complex, sometimes tacit, potentially overlapping spectrums which can have significant impact on our lives, on the individual and on the family.
Cognitive, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms of the 3 D's, unexplained or cohesive, can be better diagnosed, pointing to and responding to a range of management and treatment protocols.
Delirium is life-threatening, characterized by acute and fluctuating onset of confusion, disturbances in attention, disorganized thinking and/or decline in level of consciousness. More common in inpatient than outpatient settings, a very sensitive assessment of history, current functioning and collaborative data can help predict (and prevent) future risk.
Dementia is an older label that's now been replaced by the more contemporary label "The Neurocognitive Disorders." These disorders typically include gradual and progressive declines in mental processing ability that affect short-term memory, communication, language, judgement, reasoning, abstract thinking and other biopsychosocial domains. Though there are Mild and Major Cognitive Disorders, the reality is a continuum, worthy of early attention.
Depression is a general term used when a cluster of signs and symptoms, e.g., related to mood, sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, weight, activity . . . are clinically diagnostic specific to the individual and their context. In most cases, signs and symptoms must be present on most days, for most of the time, and of such incidence that they are out of the ordinary for that individual.