Dementia: It’s Not A Chemical Imbalance!

Maureen’s mood is very low this morning but her depression is not a result of a chemical imbalance it is a healthy response to her environment.  How on earth could anyone expect her to be in good spirits after her experiences in the last week.  The solution is not to seek a chemical solution to her low mood it is to change her environment.  We are very fortunate that we are well aware of the work of Irving Kirsch and Peter Kinderman on the dated medical model to address low mood.

It always amazes me that Irving was at Hull when his pioneering research persuaded NICE to change their guidelines on the treatment of mild to moderate depression but the news has not made it across the Humber Bridge.  I speak from personal experience as a patient: told I had a chemical imbalance and needed antidepressants for life.  I also saw Maureen being told that if she admitted low mood the Memory Service would keep her on their caseload as they would be able to help her by prescribing antidepressants.

It isn’t rocket science to realise what is causing Maureen’s low mood this morning.  When she woke up she didn’t know where she was.  I had to abandon the Camp Site as she said this wasn’t a house as it was a junk yard: all traces have quickly been removed.  A couple of hours later she is in tears wanting to go home.  I have been robbed of a possible solution to that because her back is so painful from the incident in Ladysmith Road that travelling to see family in Nottingham is out of the question.  Then comes something that is really impacting upon her thinking: Maureen thinks she is in a Care Home this morning and her dreadful memories of last week dominate her thinking: ‘they are keeping us barely alive so they can charge us for being here.  

It is difficult to help Maureen change her mind set as dementia has robbed her of the ability to try the strategies that Paul Martin    has taught me to address low mood.  Tai chi is out of the question and the progression of her dementia may well mean that it is too late to learn to meditate.  So I am hoping that music will once again come to our rescue with Willie and Chris opening up with this message:


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