How Does Depression Manifest in Aging People?
Millions of people over the age of 65 suffer from depression yet they are not treated for the condition because their symptoms are mistaken for signs of other illnesses specific to the elderly and even for side effects of medicine. When it goes untreated depression can have a serious impact on aging people’s well-being which is why it needs to be understood better. The impact of depression on seniors’ health
Depression in aging people is often linked to the presence of other medical conditions and it can last far more than it usually does in younger people. The bad news is that depression also has an unwanted impact on seniors’ health. For instance, depression is considered to double the risk of developing a heart condition in the elderly. It also increases the possibility to commit suicide in men over 80 years of age.
For patients already suffering from other medical conditions depression can hinder their ability to rehabilitate. This is a very important issue and the National Institute of Mental Health considers depression at an advanced age to be a matter of public health concern.
Older people often suffer from insomnia and this can be a symptom of depression. The main problem with insomnia is that it can trigger a cycle of disturbed sleeping patterns that practically feeds the depression. Without enough sleep seniors feel more and more depressed and as a result they cannot sleep well at night. Treatment with antidepressants that also have a sedating effect is usually recommended.
Recognizing depression in seniors can be a tough call even for a physician because the elderly are more used to facing problems in life and the fact that they feel sad is not as apparent as in a young person. Especially if they are the type of person used to holding things inside, getting them to talk about can be particularly difficult.
A good method to recognize depression in the elderly is to be aware of any significant mood changes, especially after stressful events, such as retirement or losing a spouse. If the grief period that follows is prolonged and associated with disturbances in eating or sleeping habits these could be signs of depression.
Seniors can manifest in a different manner from younger people when they are depressed. They may lose interest in their hobbies or start talking more about death. They can also suffer from frequent episodes of irritability and they may even consider suicide. All these signs must be taken into consideration and not dismissed by caregivers. The faster the depression is identified the more likely seniors can benefit from appropriate treatment.
Factors contributing to depression in aging people
There is quite a wide array of factors that can contribute to the occurrence of depression in aging people. The presence of other health conditions, the lack of support, stress, are all risk factors for depression. Women seem to be more affected than men and according to studies a long history of high blood pressure may also play an important role in the occurrence of depression. Because certain parts of the brain do not receive adequate blood flow a change in the brain’s chemical balance occurs leading to conditions such as depression.
Depression in the elderly can be treated, but first, it must be identified and recognized..