October 1, 2019
Aging comes with its own set of unique mental and physical challenges. Depression is a common disease among adults over the age of 65. Although common, it is not a normal part of the aging process. Depression is a mood disorder that results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For seniors, depression is often misdiagnosed, overlooked, or attributed to other medical conditions or medications.
These are a few risk factors that may increase depression in seniors:
- Social withdrawals and lack of supportive social circle
- Relocation from home environment
- Stressful life events such as the death of a spouse, divorce, medical event, etc.
- Drastic weight changes
- Extreme changes in sleep pattern
- Chronic pain or poor health
Here are some common signs of senior depression:
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness that last more than two weeks
- A sense of worthlessness
- Loss of interest in things they once enjoyed
- Increase in irritability, anxiety, and restlessness
- Feeling fatigued
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Substance abuse, including drinking, smoking and using more drugs than prescribed
An important point to remember is that clinical depression can be treated. If left untreated, depression in seniors will result in a poor quality of life, substance abuse, increased mortality, and possibly suicide. If you or someone in your life develops some of these signs of depression the first step is to seek medical help from a physician or mental health professional.