According to a new study that was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, institutionalized dementia patients that are given individualized good eating instructions experienced fewer depression symptoms within 6 months.
“The improvement in nutritional status may have led to reduced fatigue and increased vitality,” said the researchers. “Once the participants perceived the improvements in their health, (the participants’) pessimism, the sense of multiple illnesses, hopelessness, or even worthlessness seldom emerged.”
The researchers explained that dementia patients don’t often get proper nutrition, and they also said that “identifying foods, transferring foods, chewing and swallowing” slowly get more difficult for them as well since the condition causes patients to experience cognitive problems as it progresses. Since poor diet has long been proven to cause depression, the individualized assistance appeared to go a long way toward helping the dementia patients in getting proper nutrition, which in turn helped lessen the effects of depression for many of them.
During the study, the researchers combined Montessori-type methods with a technique called “spaced retrieval,” which helped the dementia patients eat more often. Spaced retrieval is a teaching technique that aids people in retrieving information. This method helped the dementia patients remember to eat, and what and how much to eat. Since depression can be dangerous to treat with prescription drugs when given to elderly patients (studies have shown that SSRI drugs cause elderly patients to suffer from more falls), this study may help in reducing the amount of prescription drugs needed for those patients also suffering from dementia.
Depression is often treated with antidepressant medications like Paxil and Effexor. Both drugs are known to cause users to have violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Both Paxil and Effexor are also known to cause birth defects (PPHN, oral clefts, neural tube defects, spina bifida) in babies whose mothers take the pills while pregnant.