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Minerva Psichiatrica 1999 September;40(3):201-18

language: Italian

Pseudodementia. A review

Padoani W., De Leo D.


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The aim of this review of the literature is to present the current state of the art and provide further suggestions for developing research into pseudodementia, a definition still awaiting precise nosographic classification. Ample coverage is afforded to depressive pseudodementia, which is the most commonly encountered condition of this kind, with the greatest clinical impact. This is followed by an outline of other syndromes of psychiatric interest, which may present important cognitive impairment, such as bipolar disorder in the manic phase, schizophrenia, hysterical pseudodementia, Ganser syndrome and pseudodementia due to depression in AIDS. A clinical case of ''regressive pseudodementia'' is also illustrated, a condition which has, to date, received little coverage in the literature. Present knowledge seems to suggest taking a diachronic view of pseudodementia, implying the necessity to increase the number of follow-up studies. Stress is also laid on the need to consider elderly depression as a special, specific condition, characterized by numerous peculiar features not found in other age groups, whose frequent misdiagnosis has specific clinical implications and gives rise to direct and indirect social costs. The distinction between pseudodementia syndromes and dementing-type forms of cognitive impairment and the adoption of appropriate prevention and treatment strategies would ensure a marked improvement in patients' quality of life, thereby reducing their need for public health services and enabling precious resources to be allocated to other forms of rehabilitation or care.

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