Supporting a person with dementia who has depression, anxiety or apathy

This page looks at the effects of depression, anxiety and apathy on a person with dementia, and suggests ways to support people with these conditions.

Apathy, depression and anxiety
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This page focuses on three psychological conditions – depression, anxiety and apathy. These are known as ‘psychological conditions’ because they affect a person’s emotional and mental health.

It’s common for people with dementia to experience these conditions. This page looks at how they can affect a person with dementia. This can be different to how they affect people who don’t have dementia.

This page describes therapies and treatments that can help a person with dementia who has one or more of these conditions. This includes day-to-day support that carers and other people can provide. It also includes non-drug treatments, such as talking therapies or ‘psychological therapies’, and explains the different types and how they can help.

Be aware that sometimes a person with dementia may behave in a way that appears they have depression, anxiety or apathy even though they don’t. There may instead be another reason for their behaviour – they may be reacting to their environment or how they are being treated.
For example:

  • they may seem depressed because they are bored and don’t have enough stimulation
  • they may seem anxious because they have an underlying unmet need
  • they may seem apathetic because they are finding it difficult to choose between too many options.

Those close to the person can try to find ways to support them and meet their needs. 

Help with care

If you're looking for help, we have advice on understanding and caring for someone with dementia, with tips on how carers can look after themselves too.

Find out more

The information on this page focuses on supporting someone with dementia who has depression, anxiety or apathy. However, anyone can experience these conditions. For more information about this if you’re caring for someone with dementia see the section 'Talking therapies'.

Looking after yourself

Read more on how to look after yourself when caring for someone with dementia

Carers- looking after yourself
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