Changes in mood

We all experience fluctuations in our mood from time to time. However, there are specific changes in mood that many people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias may experience. In particular, people with dementia may become depressed, withdrawn and lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.

It is important to remember that even in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, individuals are still able to experience a variety of emotions. Joy, love, fear and sadness continue to be felt by the person, so it is always important to acknowledge and address their emotional health.

Depression and apathy are mood changes commonly experienced by people with dementia.


Depression is a condition in which people feel sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time. People with depression also experience anxiety and feelings of isolation. The number of people with depression rises over the age of 65.

Up to 40 to 50 per cent of people with dementia experience depression at some point. Depression can make the symptoms of dementias worse. For example, depression can cause increased forgetfulness, confusion and anxiety. It is important to diagnose depression in people with dementia because depression may respond to treatment. If you are concerned about depression, speak to the person's doctor. 

Learn more about depression and coping strategies.


Apathy is a word that describes loss of interest, motivation and/or persistence. It means not caring and not being social with others. The person with dementia may develop this apathy (become apathetic) and feel unmotivated to do anything. Apathy can be a symptom of depression but it can also occur separately from depression.

It can be distressing for a caregiver or family member to see the person with dementia withdrawing from social gatherings and other activities. Understanding the causes of apathy and how to respond to it can be helpful.

Learn more about apathy and coping strategies.

Last Updated: 11/08/2017