Depression can affect people at any age including senior citizens. According to Web MD, “Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older, but only 10% receive treatment for depression.” They suggest the reason for this may be that the symptoms seniors display are often ignored or assumed to be a result of illnesses and medications or just a normal part of growing older.
There are many reasons why seniors suffer from depression including major changes in their lives such as retirement, the death of a spouse, illnesses, disabilities and social isolation. People suffering from very painful, disabling, or life-threatening illnesses are especially vulnerable to depression or the worsening of symptoms. Furthermore, depression can be caused by medications that are commonly prescribed to the elderly including blood pressure medication, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, calcium-channel blockers and medication for Parkinson’s as well as others.
Suffering from depression prevents seniors from enjoying life as they used to and can be the cause of a change in appetite, problems sleeping and impact physical health. HelpGuide.org says, while sadness is one sign of depression, some seniors do not recognize or admit to feelings of sadness. Rather someone may “complain instead of low motivation, a lack of energy, or physical problems. In fact, physical complaints, such as arthritis pain or worsening headaches, are often the predominant symptom of depression in the elderly.”
All too often seniors just accept depression as a part of the aging process but there are steps you can take to help yourself or your loved one. You first need to talk to your health care provider to rule out other problems, and then perhaps you need to make changes in your lifestyle. Experts suggest that isolation and inactivity can make depression worse and they recommend getting involved in physical, mental and social activities.
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.
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