Depression is more than just a dark or gray look. This is a common but severe mood disorder that needs treatment. It triggers serious symptoms that affect how you look, think, and manage daily tasks such as sleeping, eating, and working.
Depression can happen to all of us as we age, but there are ways to make you feel better and make your senior years safe and happy.
Serious depression is common in elderly people. It’s not to say that it’s natural. Older people aged 65 and older suffer from late-life depression. Yet just a few of them get treatment for depression. The main cause is that older people often show different signs of depression. Older people’s depression is most often associated with symptoms of various illnesses, and with medications used to treat them.
There are many reasons why elderly depression is often ignored:
- You might believe that you have a good reason to go down or that depression is just part of the aging process.
- You can be isolated which can lead to depression in and of itself and with little around you to notice your distress.
- You don’t know that depression is a symptom of your physical problems.
- You may be reluctant to talk about your feelings or ask for your support.
The recognition of depression in the elderly begins with the knowledge of signs and symptoms. Depression red flags include:
- Abiding sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Appetite and/or unintentional weight changes
- Decreased energy, fatigue, slowed down
- Difficulty in concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning, or over-sleeping
- Feelings of despair, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, of worthlessness, of helplessness
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Loss of interest or enjoyment in hobbies and activities
- Memory problems
- Thoughts of suicide, fixation on death
- Unexplained or aggravated aches and pain
Is it grief or depression?
Grief after a loved one’s death is a common response to death, and usually does not require any mental well-being medication. However, recovery may include depression that lasts for a very long time or is exceptionally serious after a loss.
Causes of depression in older adults
As we grow older, we sometimes experience major life changes that may increase the risk of depression. This could include:
Issues of health. Illness and impairment, chronic or extreme pain, cognitive impairment, surgical or disease-related damage to the body’s image may all lead to depression.
It’s loneliness and isolation. Depression can be caused by factors such as living alone, shrinking social networks due to death or relocation, reduced mobility due to illness or loss of driving privileges.
The sense of intent has decreased. Retirement can lead to a loss of identity, reputation, self-confidence, and financial stability, and an increased risk of depression. Physical restrictions on the things you used to enjoy will also influence your sense of intent.
It’s anxieties. It may involve fear of death or dying, as well as anxiety about financial or health issues.
Bereavement. The common cause of depression in older adults is the deaths of friends, family members, and pets, or the loss of a spouse or partner.
Depression may co-occur with other serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease, especially in middle-aged or older adults. Depression is going to exacerbate certain conditions, and vice versa. Medications taken for these physical illnesses can sometimes cause side effects that contribute to depression.
It’s a fallacy to believe that older adults can’t learn new skills after a certain age, pursue different things, or change fresh lifestyles. The reality is that the human brain never stops evolving, and you as an older adult are just as capable of learning new things and adjusting to new ideas that will help you heal from depression as a young person.
Overcoming depression means doing new things you like, learning to adjust to change, staying physically and socially active, and feeling close to friends and loved ones. it’s important to continue to feel engaged and enjoy a strong purpose in life.
If you think you have depression, talk to your doctor or health care provider. Your doctor will check your medical history and perform a physical examination to rule out any other problems that may cause or lead to symptoms of depression. He or she can even ask you a number of questions about how you feel. Being transparent and truthful about your symptoms is vital, even if you feel embarrassed or shy.
The doctor may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, social worker, or psychiatrist, where other factors may be ruled out. For older adults, other professionals are specifically qualified to deal with depression and other emotional issues.