Elderly depression can be brought on by a number of things, including life changing events, such as isolation, health issues, the death of a spouse or other loved one, or retirement. Major events in life can leave and elderly person feeling down, unmotivated or that their life is lacking somehow. The risks are also increased for females, those that are unmarried (or, widowed or divorced), and persons without a network of family or friends around. Depression can keep anyone from feeling their lives are full.
Elderly depression is a serious problem
Elderly depression is common and affects nearly 6 million seniors. However, only a small percentage get help. Left untreated, depression can keep a person from living a life that is full and happy. This is especially true for elderly suffering from major depression disorder.
Left untreated, elderly depression can increase thee risk of cardiac disease. It can also increase the probability of death from other illnesses, as well as increase the risk of suicide. Depression also can reduce the ability of an elderly person’s body to recover from illness, thus increasing the amount of time it takes to rehabilitate.
The risk of depression can be increased by other medical conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, dementia, high blood pressure, cancer or diseases that cause chronic pain.
Symptoms of depression in elderly
Elderly depression can manifest differently. However, some symptoms can be similar to what people of any age would suffer.
- Loss of interest in activities
- Low self worth
- Frequent thoughts of death; suicide attempts
- Weight loss and/or appetite loss
- Social isolation
- Feeling helpless or high anxiety
Some symptoms that might be displayed by depressed seniors, include:
- Vague complaints of pain
- Irritability or demanding behavior
- Neglecting personal care
- Memory problems
- Slowed movements or speech
If you or an elderly loved one is suffering from depression, talk to a physician about options. Getting help is easier than you might think.
Elderly Depression Video
National Alliance on Mental Illness
MedlinePlus, National LIbrary of Medicine & National Institute of Health