Elderly depression is pervasive. About 6 million Americans aged 65 and older are burdened by depression. The passing of a spouse, physical impairments, retirement, relocation, or medication side effects are just a few of the causes. It is crucial to distinguish these warning signs so that you or your loved one can get the best care possible to overcome this disabling condition.
Elderly Depression Warning Signs
There are many indications that depression is present.
Here are the most common:
- Insomnia and sleep disorders (such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or oversleeping)
- Feeling apathetic towards daily activities such as hygiene, partaking in meals, or taking medication
- Physical ailments like unexplained aches and pains, a tendency to move or speak at a slower pace, and/or lack of energy and motivation
- Mental changes such as a memory loss, irritability, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Your loved one may worry more, have difficulties concentrating, or may isolate from social situations.
Treatments for Depression in Elders
- Many times depression is caused by common medications or a certain combination of medications taken together. If you notice these signs of depression, your doctor may reduce your dosage or prescribe a different medication.
- Activity and light exercise have been proven to have similar effects as antidepressants. Light housework, going for a walk, or going to the store may increase one’s mood.
- Socializing with friends and family can put life back into perspective and eliminate feelings of loneliness.
- A healthy diet and 7-9 hours of sleep can recharge your body and mind.
- Find new purpose in life by adopting a pet or learning a new skill. Discover something that gets you up in the morning that is challenging or stimulating.
- Herbal Remedies: Many prescription antidepressants can be detrimental to the elderly as they contribute to rapid bone loss and an increased chance of fractures. Many turn to herbal remedies such as Omega-3 fatty acids, St. John’s wort, folic acid, or SAMe (and of course, these should be reported to and monitored by your doctor).
- Peer counseling, therapy, or support groups are also valuable to resolve emotional unrest.
Depression is a serious matter and should be addressed immediately and consistently. It is important to note that grief can be a normal part of life and is distinguished apart from depression when those feelings turn to constant thoughts of hopelessness. Grief has a spectrum of emotions while depression is stuck in apathy, lethargy, and hinders in daily functions.
Depression CAN be overcome! With diet, physical and social activity, and possibly obtaining new doctor’s prescriptions, the path to recovery isn’t so far away.