False dementia, also known as pseudodementia or depression-related cognitive dysfunction, is a psychiatric condition primarily characterized by forgetfulness, personality changes, reduced concentration, increased confusion, and other hallmarks of dementia. However, these symptoms, which may be erroneously attributed to dementia, are actually caused by other conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, mania, or adverse effects of medications.
This false assessment often occurs when the patient is elderly and as such presents with cognitive difficulties that are stereotypically associated with aging. Hence, the cognitive impairments can be reversed with the treatment of depression or proper medication management. Some of the key distinctions between true and false dementia are the onset and duration; the former is usually gradual and enduring while the latter has an abrupt onset and has a shorter life span. Many elderly adults see, and receive prescriptions, from multiple doctors. Some times these various prescriptions can interfere with each other and can cause, or at least conribute to, false dementia. For this reason it can be a good idea for a patient, or family member, to consult with a pharmacist about drug interactions.