Depression in the Elderly
Many people think that depression is a natural part of the aging process, but that is not true. In fact, there is actually a name for it, which is geriatric depression. Depression is common. Approximately 15 million people in the United States have depression symptoms every year. One of the main issues is that elderly people tend to live alone and have less contact with the outside world since they are not working or going out as much so their symptoms go unnoticed for a long time. It is really up to the family and friends to notice what is going on and talk to your loved ones about getting treatment.
Signs of Depression
According to Mental Health America (MHA), out of the 34 million men and women over 65 in the United States, over 2 million of them have depression. Older adults who suffer from depression have similar symptoms as anyone else but with their other illnesses and lack of social activities, it may not be apparent to others for some time. If you have a loved one who is acting differently or has recently stopped returning your calls or wanting visitors, it may be time to get some help. Some of the symptoms include:
- Persistent sadness or despair
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping less or more than usual
- Avoiding others
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Vague body aches or gastrointestinal issues
- Not performing daily activities such as bathing, changing clothes, or eating right
- Inability to make decisions or concentrate
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Get Help Right Away
If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, do not wait to get help. You should first get your loved one checked out by their physician to rule out underlying medical conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is essential to get them diagnosed and treated right away because the risks of other medical issues, death, or suicide increases dramatically in those over the age of 65 who are depressed. While talking to your loved one yourself is helpful, you will probably need a professional to talk to them to get a diagnosis and to get treatment. In some cases, medication can be taken that will increase the quality of their life dramatically. That and talking to a therapist are incredibly helpful in geriatric depression. In fact, just getting talk therapy once a week for a few months has been known to reduce depression symptoms by almost 80%. If you do not have a therapist or your loved one has mobility issues, you can get online therapy from a website such as BetterHelp.com without even having to leave home. You do not even need an appointment so you can try it right now.