Depression, One of the Most Common Mental Health Disorders

Depression is considered to be one of the most common mental disorders among our elderly population.  In fact as of 2012 over 6 million older adults above the age of 65 suffered with depression while only about 10% received help for their depression.

What exactly is depression?

Depression is often seen as a lack of interest in regularly enjoyed activities, sadness, feeling hopeless or helpless, lack of appetite, loss of energy, inability to sleep, no desire for regular hobbies or activities, and no desire to maintain or engage in relationships.

While, these are common symptoms, not all seniors will feel or react in these ways or not all of them.  For example, some seniors claim that they don’t feel sad instead they state they feel less motivated with a lack of energy, or other more serious physical concerns.  For many people physical complaints such as arthritis pain, increasingly severe headaches, and otherwise medically unexplained aches and pains are often symptoms and warning sign of depression.

What causes depression in the elderly?

As you age you will be facing numerous life changes that can impact your health and cause you to become depressed.

  • Loss (bereavements)of loved ones – spouse, family, friends, neighbors, pets
  • Health Problems including cognitive impairment and decline, surgery, change in medications, High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack, loss of mobility
  • Loss of Independence, moving to a new residence or community, loneliness, isolation, and a reduced sense of purpose
  • Some Scientists have also found causality between some illnesses and elderly depression. These include Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and hormonal disorders
  • Fear of dying and death

Finding ways out of depression

Alone and depressed

Medications (antidepressants) are often considered a remedy for depression.  However, medication should be considered a last resort especially with older people.  As people age, side effects and complications of medications often are more severe.  So, it is important to determine if  medication is the best approach or if something less harsh, such as therapy is a much better solution.  Often people suffering with depression find Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) a successful approach to treating depression.  CBT is a very effective practical talking therapy program that focuses on learning coping and real problem solving strategies instead of reliving the past events over and over again.

Where do you get help if you think you are depressed?

You could talk it over with your primary care physician or speak to the to the program director at your community who will probably recommend a Counselor to help you explore your feelings. This is where Silver Linings comes in – we are specialists at helping older people through the tough times.  Reach Out to Silver Linings – we’re here for you.