Dealing with Depression

Posted on

Mar 06, 2018

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 or older are affected by depression. While some adults with depression may have been managing the disease for a number of years, others experience depression for the first time later in life.
Symptoms of depression in people older than age 65 include:

Social withdrawal
Loss of appetite
Loss of interest in activities
Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
Feelings of hopelessness

Unlike typical feelings of sadness, loneliness or grief, depression does not go away on its own and may last for months or years at a time if untreated.

No one knows exactly what causes depression, but some circumstances or diseases can increase the risk of depression. In the elderly, hormonal changes can be a factor, as can physical illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimers disease, arthritis, Parkinsons disease and certain thyroid disorders. Major life changessuch as retirement, the loss of a loved one or the diagnosis of a major diseasemay also trigger depression.

Diagnosis Difficulties

Because depression can mimic symptoms of other diseases, early signs may be misdiagnosed. Before diagnosis and treatment of depression, physical tests should be conducted to rule out other illnesses.

Depression can also be mistakenly considered a normal part of aging, both by doctors and by senior adults. Some seniors may also see depression as a character flaw and feel uncomfortable asking for help. While all people experience life changes that can elicit grief or sadness, clinical depression is not something that should just be accepted as a part of getting older. Treatment options such as psychotherapy and antidepressants can help improve symptoms and quality of life for those suffering with depression at any age.

The MetroSouth Senior Behavioral Health Unit is an acute inpatient program to treat persons 55 years or older who are suffering from symptoms such as:

Overt prolonged sadness,

Excessive anxiety,

Sudden onset of disorientation and confusion,

Thoughts, behaviors, or plans of hurting themselves or others including poor judgment in day-to-day living.

For a confidential assessment, or more information, call (708) 824-4774.Editors Note: This article was submitted by MetroSouth Medical Center.

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Furthermore, symptoms of depression are often different from those in younger people. Sadness is not always the main symptom. It can be a feeling of numbness or lack of interest in activities, which is often attributed to age. Mental health professionals and healthcare providers may sometimes mistake symptoms as reactions to illness or life changes.There are several reasons why depression may be missed. Older adults may be isolated, with few around to notice their symptoms or distress. Also, many do not realize that physical pain can sometimes indicate depression. In addition, we may feel stigma admitting to mental health problems and may be reluctant to talk about feelings and ask for help. Certain medications and medical illnesses can bring on depression or have similar symptoms.As a result, it is important to understand the signs, symptoms and consequences of depression. According to the CDC, here are some of the potential symptoms of depression:         Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism         Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness         Anxiety and worry         Irritability, restlessness         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable         Fatigue and decreased energy         Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions         Insomnia, earlymorning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping         Overeating or appetite loss         Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts         Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment.         Memory problems         Lack of motivation and energy         Slowed movement and speech         Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene). Throughout our lives, we are told that lifestyle changes can improve health and wellness, including mental health. 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Healthcare Network provides quality primary care services for children and adults in locations throughout Collier County. To learn more or make an appointment, please call 239.658.3000 or visit

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