Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:365

Geriatric Psychiatry Review: Differential Diagnosis and Treatment of the 3 D’s - Delirium, Dementia, and Depression

  • Lisa J. Downing
  • Thomas V. Caprio
  • Jeffrey M. Lyness
Geriatric Disorders (H Lavretsky, Section Editor)

DOI: 10.1007/s11920-013-0365-4

Cite this article as:
Downing, L.J., Caprio, T.V. & Lyness, J.M. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2013) 15: 365. doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0365-4
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Geriatric Disorders


The three D’s of Geriatric Psychiatry—delirium, dementia, and depression—represent some of the most common and challenging diagnoses for older adults. Delirium is often difficult to diagnose and treatment is sometimes controversial with the use of antipsychotic medications, but it is common in a variety of patient care settings and remains an independent risk factor for morbidity and mortality in older adults. Dementia may affect a significant number of older adults and is associated with delirium, depression, frailty, and failure to thrive. Treatment of dementia is challenging and while medication interventions are common, environmental and problem solving therapies may have some of the greatest benefits. Finally, depression increases with age and is more likely to present with somatic complaints or insomnia and is more likely to be reported to a primary care physician than any other healthcare provider by older adults. Depression carries an increased risk for suicide in older adults and proven therapies should be initiated immediately. These three syndromes have great overlap, can exist simultaneously in the same patient, and often confer increased risk for each other. The primary care provider will undoubtedly benefit from a solid foundation in the identification, classification, and treatment of these common problems of older adulthood.


PsychiatryPrimary careDeliriumDementiaDepressionGeriatricElderlyAgingMental health

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa J. Downing
    • 1
  • Thomas V. Caprio
    • 1
  • Jeffrey M. Lyness
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics and AgingUniversity of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Monroe Community HospitalRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Rochester School of Medicine and DentistryRochesterUSA