A recent study found that Alzheimer’s patients with psychosis were misdiagnosed with another form of dementia 24% of the time, which is nearly double what it was originally thought to be. Many people do not realize that psychosis does have a link to Alzheimer’s, even though it thought to be only associated with other types of dementia such as Lewy Body dementia or Parkinson’s disease related dementia.
The study, “Determining the impact of psychosis on rates of false-positive and false-negative diagnosis in Alzheimer’s disease,” was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions. They looked at 961 people in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database who were treated at Alzheimer’s disease centers in the United States between 2005 and 2012. Not all of them were diagnosed while they were living, but were diagnosed during autopsies.
The typical signs of psychosis are when a patient experiences delusions or hallucinations. In Alzheimer’s patients, about 36% experience delusions, or false ideas, and 18% experience hallucinations, or false perception of objects. Because psychosis is most commonly associated with other forms of dementia, doctors are more reluctant to diagnose a patient with Alzheimer’s when they are experiencing signs of psychosis.
Differing Courses of Treatment
The more we learn about the different types of dementia, the more the treatments for each type will likely differ. Therefore, making a correct diagnosis is crucial. The more we know about these different types of dementia, and what leads to a misdiagnosis, means we are closer to more accurate diagnosis and proper courses of treatment.
Psychotic symptoms have been linked to a more rapid disease course and a higher loss of functional abilities which makes this research even more essential. A patient that is experiencing psychosis likely needs more care and attention and this can add stress to the family and caregivers. Knowing how to properly diagnose and treat these symptoms is critical.