It’s just as important for an older person with symptoms of depression to seek treatment as it is for someone younger. The impact of depression on health in older adults can be severe: much research has reported that depression is associated with worse health in people with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In older adults, depression may be disregarded as one ages as an inevitable result of life changes, chronic illness, and disability. Symptoms include: changes in mood, energy level, or appetite; flat affect, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating or focusing, feeling restless, or on edge, increased worry, anger or irritability, headaches, digestive issues, or pain; self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, and suicidal thoughts. When these symptoms last longer than two weeks, talk with a professional who can help you identify the triggers to your mood and develop a plan to help you improve your mood.
Depression is a treatable medical condition, not a normal part of aging. However, older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression because of its frequency accompanying chronic medical conditions. At least four out of five adults over fifty have one or more chronic illnesses. Many medications used to treat chronic illnesses have side effects of increased depression. Some of these include anti-anxiety medications, beta blockers, steroids, estrogens, pain relievers and statins to name a few. Depression is not just having “the blues” or the emotions we feel when grieving the loss of a loved one. It is a true medical condition that is treatable, like diabetes or hypertension. People sometimes manifest dementia-like symptoms—forgetfulness, disorientation, inattentiveness, and slowed responses—when they are depressed. This is referred to as pseudodementia and can masquerade as the dementia, but there are subtle differences from depression and can be reversed with treatment.
For more information on older adult mental health, please contact our offices at 248-434-8227