1 in 5 affected by this quiet menace, Depression
Depression affects 1 in 5 older adults in the community and 2 in 5 in care homes. Feeling sad is not uncommon but older adult have more reasons to feel low for example, physical health issues (disabilities or long-term illnesses), loss (death of partner or friends), loss of role (retirement, voluntary redundancy) or less disposable income. Majority are able to cope with lifetime adversaries but a proportion of older adults may go on to develop clinical depression. An important fact to reassure you is that help is at hand.
Unfortunately, older adult may fail to recognize the symptoms of depression, or may not take the steps to get the help they need. Assuming that you have good reason to be down or it is part of aging, being isolated or failing to recognize that physical complaints may be signs of depression and reluctance to talk about feelings are some reasons for this.
Although some symptoms of depression in older adults are similar to a younger person, many are dissimilar and complex. Symptom profile may be laden with anxiety, health related symptoms and present with somatic preoccupation (appetite, sleep-wake cycle) and lack of sexual desire. In severe cases intention to self-harm is usually profound.
Medical conditions that can cause depression in older adults.
It’s important to be aware that medical problems can cause depression in older adults (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart disease etc.) either directly or as a psychological reaction to the illness. Any chronic medical condition, particularly if it is painful, disabling, or life-threatening, can lead to depression or make depression symptoms worse.
Depression due to medication
Symptoms of depression can also occur as a side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs, particularly if taking multiple medications. While the mood-related side effects of prescription medication can affect anyone, older adults are more sensitive because, as with age body is less efficient at metabolizing and processing drug e.g. Beta-blockers, Calcium-channel blockers, Steroids (e.g. cortisone and prednisone)
Depression Vs Dementia
Loss of mental sharpness could be a sign of either depression or dementia, both of which are common in older adults. Depression and dementia share many similar symptoms, including memory problems, sluggish speech and movements, and low motivation, so it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Whether cognitive decline is caused by dementia or depression, it’s important to see a doctor right away. If it is depression, memory, concentration, and energy will bounce back with treatment.
Grief Vs Depression
Experiences with loss with age are not uncommon. Grief is an emotional reaction to loss and in older adults the various losses are; independence, mobility, health, retirement, or death of spouse/partner or friend. Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy, since they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Older people are able to grief normally and come out of it within approximately six months’ time. Unfortunately for some grief may become complicated; too intense, too delayed, getting stuck or have depression on top of grief. In these times older adult may need to get some help.