Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Earn 1 hour of continuing education by joining the OT Potential Club after listening to this OT Potential Podcast course on Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases.

Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases with Rachel Wiley

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The research we are discussing on this 1-hour episode really drives home the complex connection between depression and 3 neurodegenerative diseases: 

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Parkinson’s Disease
  3. Huntington Disease

Even though depression has a high comorbidity with all of these diseases, you’ll learn why it should not be an assumed part of the disease process. Instead, depression should be recognized as distinct and treated. 

But, here’s where it gets super complex:

In some cases the medications traditionally used to help treat depression do not work for this population—and can be actively harmful. So, OT approaches like environmental enrichment and physical exercise could actually be the front line defense for helping these patients manage their depression. 

To unpack all of this, I am so thankful to be joined on the podcast next week with dementia care expert, Rachel Wiley, MS, OTR/L, CDP

See all listening platforms for the OT Potential Podcast.

Primary Journal Article Explored

When you log in, be sure to check out the OT Potential Club’s written breakdown of the following research article. Then, share your questions and thoughts with fellow practitioners.

Galts, C. P. C., Bettio, L. E. B., Jewett, D. C., Yang, C. C., Brocardo, P. S., Rodrigues, A. L. S., Thacker, J. S., & Gil-Mohapel, J. (2019). Depression in neurodegenerative diseases: Common mechanisms and current treatment options. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 102, 56–84. 

Supporting Research and Journal Articles

Bennett, S., Laver, K., Voigt-Radloff, S., Letts, L., Clemson, L., Graff, M., Wiseman, J., &; Gitlin, L. (2019). Occupational therapy for people with dementia and their family carers provided at home: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 9(11). 

Kishita, N., Backhouse, T., &; Mioshi, E. (2019). Nonpharmacological interventions to improve depression, anxiety, and quality of life (QOL) in people with dementia: An overview of systematic reviews. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 33(1), 28–41.

Learning Objectives

  • You will be able to recognize the evidence-supported OT interventions for depression in Alzheimer’s. 
  • You will be able to identify the evidence-supported OT interventions for depression in Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease.


Intro (5 minutes)

Breakdown and analysis of journal article (5 minutes)

  • Quick intro to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Depression and Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • What causes depression?
  • What are the mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disease?
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Takeaways for OT practitioners

Discussion on practical implications for OTs (with Rachel Wiley) (50 minutes)

  • Tell us how you first found OT
  • What drew you into dementia care and what are you doing now? 
  • What were your initial impressions of this article? 
  • Do you screen for and discuss depression symptoms and suicidal ideation with patients? 
  • Exercise was mentioned consistently as a treatment option. How can OTs address exercise with patients? 
  • The article also mentioned “environmental enrichment” multiple times as a treatment option- what opportunities do you see for OTs there? 
  • Do you talk about sleep and diet with your patients? 
  • Depression is difficult to talk about. How can we support carepartners when their loved one is experiencing depression + a neurodegenerative disease? 
  • What practical advice do you have for taking a multidisciplinary approach to complex situations, like we’ve talked about today?
  • Are there any other considerations for OTs working with patients with depression in neurodegenerative diseases that were not mentioned in the article? 

Contact Hours

1 hour (0.1 AOTA CEUs). Released online from Aurora, NE.

This course on Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases is AOTA approved!

Target Audience/Educational Level

Our target audience is occupational therapy practitioners who are looking to learn about Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases.  The educational level is introductory.

Instructional Methods/Registration/Special Needs Requests/Cancellation Policy

This course is an independent/self-study course delivered via podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Explore your listening options on the OT Potential Podcast page.

If you need accommodations to take this course, please contact us and we will address your needs on an individual basis.

If this course were to be canceled, please see our cancellation policy on our terms page.

Course Completion Requirements

In order to receive a certificate for this course, you must first listen to the podcast in its entirety. Then, you will need to take the test (found at the top of this page) and earn 75% or higher. If you pass, a certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email.

Financial and Non-financial Disclosures

It is the policy of OT Potential to disclose any financial and non-financial interest the provider or instructor may have in a product or service mentioned during an activity. This is to ensure that the audience is made aware of any bias of the speaker.

We here at OT Potential have no financial stake in this topic.  Our guest, Rachel Wiley, does teach the Skills 2 Care dementia program for which she takes a salary from the Dementia Collaborative.


Rachel Wiley, MS, OTR/L, CDP

Rachel Wiley, MS, OTR/L, CDP

Rachel is an occupational therapist and the founder and owner of Day By Day Dementia Consulting and the Dementia Collaborative LLC. Rachel is certified in Skills2Care® for caregivers of individuals living with dementia, and she is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.

Rachel is also a certified master trainer of Skills2Care® through Jefferson Elder Care and trains occupational therapists from around the world in the Skills2Care® program. She is also currently a volunteer advisory council member for Dementia Society of America. 

Previously, Rachel was an adjunct faculty member in the occupational therapy departments at Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University. She also worked as the occupational therapist and Dementia Service Coordinator for the Pew Charitable Trust Grant with Jefferson Elder Care. 

Rachel attended Penn State University for her Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation and Human Services and minor in Psychology and attended Thomas Jefferson University for her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy. 

She previously served as the Gerontology Chair for the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association’s (POTA) District V Board. She also owned and operated a patient care practice, Day By Day Home Therapy, for 6 years, serving clients living with dementia and their care partners in the Delaware Valley. 

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L

Sarah’s passion is helping fellow OT practitioners translate evidence into daily practice. Sarah earned her BA in religion from St. Olaf College, then earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from New York University in 2011. Since then, she’s worked in numerous facilities, including a critical access hospital, an acute trauma hospital, and a state inpatient psychiatric hospital.

Sarah is the founder/owner of OT Potential. Read more about OT Potential here.

This course was designed to meet your continuing education requirements

We designed the courses in the Club to meet the requirements for “online” and “independent/self-study” courses. For more details read our blog post: Can I earn OT CEUS from a podcast? To verify the requirements from your specific state (within the US), check out our post, OT Continuing Education Explained. If you are outside of the United States and have questions, please contact us.

We are proud to be an AOTA Approved Provider and to meet the requirements for your NBCOT renewal.

We are AOTA approved!!
We report course results to CE Broker every 24 hours!
Works for NBCOT PDUs!

See our other OT courses!

  • OT and AI
  • OT for Spasticity in Adults
  • Depression in Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • OT, Plagiocephaly, and Cognitive Outcomes
  • Cancer Rehab for Older Adults
  • OT & Smart Home Tech Adoption

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