Depression, Dementia and Suicide

by John Mills Talmadge | 11/18/04 6:00am

To the Editor:

The tragic story of the judge who committed suicide without seeking diagnosis and treatment for his condition merits our serious attention (The Dartmouth, "Judge writes suicide note in Rauner Library," November 16). Many older individuals suffer from clinical depression that is mistaken for dementia (commonly called "senility"). Depression is a very treatable condition.

To our misfortune many patients and physicians mistake memory problems for permanent brain damage when, in fact, memory almost always improves when a depressed patient recovers from a bout of the serious blues.