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The natural history of mental disorder in old age: Alzheimer's disease and depressive illness compared

The natural history of mental disorder in old age: Alzheimer's disease and depressive illness compared

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 13(9): 591-600

Background. Depressive illness (DI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are important causes of morbidity in old age and the relationships between these two disorders are uncertain. Method. In a prospective, descriptive, comparative study of consecutive referrals aged over 65 years to one consultant, 218 patients with AD and 280 patients with Di were followed up for 15 years. Results. The prognosis of DI uncomplicated by physical illness at referral was reasonably good and 5-year survival was double that of AD. The rate of occurrence of AD in DI is no greater than in the general population. The higher mortality from cancer in DI than in AD is unexplained but may relate to differences in aetiology of these two disorders. Conclusion. Although their symptoms frequently overlap, AD and DI are distinct disorders with very different prognoses and accurate diagnosis may have important implications for appropriate treatment.

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Accession: 009601332

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PMID: 9777423

DOI: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1166(199809)13:9<591::aid-gps826>3.0.co;2-8

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