While depression in the elderly is increasingly common, this doesn’t mean it’s normal. A lot of the senior members of our community need more help than we realize. Today, we’ll be talking about depression in elderly citizens.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious medical illness. Depression can negatively affect the way you act, the way you think, and the way you process information. The feelings of sadness are usually synonymous with the term ‘depression’.
There are various symptoms that are linked to depression. Some symptoms show up as:
- Loss of interest in normally beloved things or activities
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to make and stick to a decision
- Thoughts of committing suicide
In order for those symptoms to be categorized as depression, they generally need to last more than two weeks.
A common misconception about depression is that it is only a mental condition. It is something that can also be triggered by physical illnesses like a brain tumor, hormonal imbalance, or thyroid issues.
Depression in the Elderly
It is a fact that people over the age of 50 are thrice as likely to be diagnosed with depression. This is likely because of them going through a great age of transition. It’s not easy being fully capable and active one moment and then struggling to do menial things the next. This can bring a lot of hurt and confusion to any person.
The reason why depression is more serious in the elderly is because this is usually compounded by other illnesses that they already have. With a slower rate of recovery, the elderly tend to have longer bouts of depression. This can severely impact their health. Being depressed puts stress on already fragile system. This can increase their risk for cardiac illnesses.
These are only some of the reasons why the elderly need constant evaluation and careful care. What is often difficult in diagnosing depression in the elderly is that a large percentile of people aged 65 and older do not have suitable support systems in place.
There is a certain stigma associated with depression. As such, even if a person recognizes the symptoms in themselves, they usually delay getting treatment. This can lead to more severe repercussions in the long run.
If you suspect that an elderly person around you is distressed or depressed, it is important to get help immediately. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, the patient can get started on antidepressants or psychotherapy. Being more physically active helps a lot as a treatment, too.
An issue with antidepressants is that they come with side effects that an elderly person may not react to as well as a young adult. A common issue is that doctors tend to prescribe lower dosages in elderly patients. As a result, medicines take longer to take effect.
Depression can be treated. All it requires is suitable help. If you believe that you are undergoing depression, it is important to visit your doctor. It is always best to be wrong and secure.