What depressive symptoms are reported in Alzheimer's patients?

Myron F. Weiner, Doris Svetlik, Richard C. Risser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose. To ascertain the nature of depression-related symptoms in AD. Method. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) was administered as a semi-structured interview to 30 consecutive Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients who also underwent independent psychiatric evaluation. The HAM-D was also administered with a caregiver as the informant. Results. There was no relationship between the number of symptoms reported by patients or caregivers and patients' level of cognitive impairment. Symptom reports by caregivers living in the same household did not differ significantly from symptom reports by caregivers living elsewhere. Caregivers rated AD patients as having significantly more depressive symptoms than did patients themselves. The items most frequently endorsed by caregivers were psychic anxiety (77%), suspiciousness (50%), low energy (50%) and depression (43%). The items most frequently endorsed by AD patients were weight loss (36%), psychic anxiety (33%) and somatic anxiety (33%). Depression was endorsed by 20% of patients. Caregiver-respondent HAM-D scores suggested clinically significant depression in 27% of cases, but AD patients' scores suggested clinically significant depression in only 7% of cases. No case of major depression was found on psychiatric examination. Conclusions. Depressive symptoms seemed more an executive function loss than of primary mood disturbance in that guilt, suicidal rumination and self-perceived loss of interest were uncommon, suggesting that simple environmental measures might be the most appropriate treatment of these symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-652
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1997


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Depression
  • Executive function loss
  • HAM-D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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