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HOME / people living with dementia / Coming to terms with dementia / 2.1 Emotional reactions to having dementia

2.1 Emotional reactions to having dementia

Managing your feelings is a key step in moving forward with dementia

Most people have a strong emotional reaction to being told they have dementia

People with dementia often tell us they felt shocked and numb when they were told their diagnosis. 

 It was very overwhelming, you know, to be really told, ”Yes, you do have dementia”.

  • Many said they felt extremely distressed and upset. 
  • Some described grief and loss. 
  • Some felt anger that this had happened to them. 
  • Others told us they felt relief, because they finally had an explanation for what was happening to them. 

Almost all the people with dementia we’ve talked to described strong emotional reactions to being told the diagnosis. Many said they couldn’t listen, think or do much immediately after receiving the diagnosis, it was very overwhelming. 

It can take time for these feelings to settle down.   

For some people it takes a couple of days, for others a couple of weeks. If it is more than a few months and you’re still feeling extremely distressed about the diagnosis, then it may be beneficial to get help to work through those feelings. These strong feelings can get in the way of moving forward with dementia.


Woman facing the future

Talk to family and/or friends about your feelings

Share your feelings about dementia and talk through the reasons for your feelings.