Washington, Mar 4 : Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and dementia brings relief to patients rather than pushing them into depression, says a new study.
A 2004 review of study had revealed that nearly half of the physicians were hesitant to inform patients of an Alzheimer's diagnosis fearing that it would further distress an already troubled patient.
However, the follow up of the study led by Brian Carpenter, Associate professor of psychology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University suggest that earlier diagnosis could boost emotional well-being of both patients and their caregivers.
"We undertook this study because we wanted there to be some data out there that addressed this question and that we could show to physicians and say, 'Most of the people don't get depressed, upset and suicidal," said Carpenter
"So, this fear that you have about telling them and disturbing them is probably not legitimate for most people,'" he added.
During the follow up, researchers examined, 90 individuals and their caregivers as they came to the Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre for an assessment.
Out of them, sixty-nine percent were diagnosed with Alzheimer's but showed no considerable changes in depression, moreover anxiety decreased substantially.
"The major finding is that both patients and their families feel relief, not increased anxiety, upon learning the diagnosis," said study co-author Dr John C. Morris, Distinguished Professor of Neurology and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre.
"Nobody wants to hear the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, but even that is preferable to recognizing there's a problem and not knowing what it is.
"At least having the diagnosis allows people to make plans for the future, including treatment as appropriate," he added.
Earlier diagnoses allow earlier intervention to delay the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia.
The study is published in the current Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.