By : Emma Lawson
Major depressive disorder or more commonly known as clinical depression is a severe mood disorder characterized by bad mood, feelings of despair and hopelessness, often followed by a state of anxiety which can greatly undermine a person’s sense of worth, feelings and behavior. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder affects more than 15 million American adults, of which 6 million are people aged 65 and older. And while depression can affect people regardless of their age, depression in the elderly is quite a common occurrence, and only 10% of the affected population receives appropriate care. In this article, we’re going to cover the most common signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly and consider possible solutions for the said issue.
How Does It Occur?
While scientists still haven’t concluded how depression actually ensues, it’s important to note that depression in the elderly differs quite a bit from depression in younger adults and adolescents. There are many possible reasons for a person to start feeling depressed and, sometimes, elderly people get affected by it without actually realizing that they’ve formed a serious disorder. Isolation, lack of activity as well as lack of sleep and an unbalanced lifestyle can greatly contribute to feelings of depression. Seasonal depression is another common type of depression in the elderly, and certain studies have noted that some older people can experience depression not only during winter, but also during the holiday season. Studies have also concluded that women are more prone to depression, as well as individuals who have suffered a traumatic event, are widowed or don’t have a good support network.
Although many people believe that those suffering from depression exhibit only signs of sadness and apathy, there’s actually a high range of symptoms that can help establish whether a person is actually depressed. Depression in the elderly is quite specific, as it commonly features various physical symptoms . Lack of energy and motivation is a primary symptom, while many people experience insomnia, loss of appetite, withdrawal, difficulty to perform everyday activities and, in more severe cases, suicide thoughts.
Depression and Other Illnesses
One thing that makes depression in the elderly different from other types of depression is the fact that older adults are in greater risk of suffering depression if they’ve previously suffered a major-medical condition, or still are. Chronic pain, stroke, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are known to increase the chances of depression in the elderly. It’s also important to note that depression can easily occur as a side-effect of certain medications and combinations of different prescribed drugs.
How to Fight It?
Even though there isn’t an official cure for depression, there are different available treatments that might alleviate the symptoms and help a person feel better again. Some of these treatments include the use of medication such as antidepressants, as well as psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy. Other from this, experts claim that counseling and support groups can greatly help people suffering from depression and highlight the significance of professional and quality home care. One of the most distinctive things about depression is that it requires great will power and strength from the patient, which is oftentimes quite difficult to accomplish. Once a person is diagnosed with depression, it’s important to seek additional help and find a way to become engaged in diverse activities that could alter the state for the better.
Depression is a horrid disease and many people, especially elderly, don’t have the necessary knowledge to tackle it. Years may pass until a person is diagnosed with this disorder, which can greatly undermine a person’s emotional, spiritual as well as physical health. This is why it’s crucial to try and recognize the symptoms on time and act quickly on the subject.