Medical Q&As

Depression - won't seek help?

I think my mother is suffering with depression and I don\'t know what to do. My mother lives in Dublin and I live in the country. In my opinion her GP is not very helpful. My GP also thinks my mother is suffering with depression and has offered to see her but my mother wonít go. Her symptoms started off with just a bad memory, forgetting birthdays or appointments, but it has gotten progressively worse. She is now forgetting to pay bills; not eating properly (only junk food) not cleaning the house and it\'s really bad. Her personal hygiene is very poor. When I tell her how worried I am, even to the point where I have been reduced to tears, she just looks at me blankly and says she\'s fine, she\'s happy. This is affecting my own family life, as I am so at my wits end at what to do.

It is possible that your mother is depressed but there are other diagnoses that need to be considered. Some of the symptoms you mention could be related to depression but it is also possible that your mother may be showing early signs of dementia. You do not mention your motherís age, which is a crucial consideration in relation to the possibility of dementia. If she is in the appropriate age group a consultant geriatrician could assess her. That process of assessment could commence with a home visit from a member of the consultantís team. Alternatively, if you are convinced that the problem is one of depression she could be assessed by the community psychiatric team. That process could be initiated with a home visit from a CPN (community psychiatric nurse). Your motherís GP could initiate either of these assessments. The gross deterioration that you describe needs to be properly assessed in order for your mother to be provided with appropriate care.