Depression is not a natural part of aging and should never be dismissed as such. However, it is true that older adults are more likely to experience this medical condition than other age groups. If you have any concerns about someone close to you, offer your support by accompanying them on a visit with their health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. Depression does not simply appear when we feel sad or mourn the loss of our loved ones; rather, it requires professional help just like diabetes or hypertension do.
How Do I Know if it’s Depression
If you are experiencing a bout of depression, it will be characterized by feelings of low energy and distress that can linger for extended periods. Additionally, these bouts may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment
How is Depression Different for Older Adults
Elderly individuals are especially vulnerable. It’s estimated that 80% have at least one chronic health issue, and half of them possess two or more illnesses. Moreover, depression is often seen in those who also suffer from other ailments (such as cardiovascular disease or cancer) or whose ability to move around has decreased significantly.
Unfortunately, older adults are often overlooked or ignored when it comes to mental health and depression. This may be because healthcare providers mistake the symptoms of depression for a natural part of aging, instead of something that can be treated. Additionally, many elderly individuals believe feeling depressed is just an inevitable side-effect and do not take the necessary steps to find help. However, with proper care and treatment from medical professionals, seniors can learn how to manage their feelings in positive ways and lead happier lives.
How Do I Find Help
Antidepressants, psychotherapy, and a combination of both have been shown to alleviate symptoms in many elderly individuals who suffer from depression. If you suspect that someone close to you is experiencing this condition, be sure to offer your support by accompanying them on their visit with a health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. In the event of an emergency or crisis involving yourself or somebody dear to you, don’t hesitate – seek help right away!