Dr. John Morris and Professor Brian Carpenter of Washington University in St. Louis studied 90 individuals who came to the University's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center for an evaluation. Of those, 69 percent were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Patients and caregivers were interviewed before and after the diagnosis.
"The major finding is that both patients and their families feel relief, not increased anxiety, upon learning the diagnosis," said Morris, who noted anxiety among both patients and caregivers decreased substantially, and no significant changes in depression were noted.
Carpenter said the study was conducted to generate data to convince physicians that most people don't become depressed, upset or suicidal. "So, this fear that (physicians) have about telling them and disturbing them is probably not legitimate for most people," added Carpenter.
Although nobody wants to hear a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, Morris said at least having the diagnosis allows people to make plans for the future, including treatment as appropriate.
The study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.