Have you ever felt isolated and indifferent towards things and activities you once enjoyed? Do you feel a perpetual sense of gloom and hopelessness about your life? Are you having trouble sleeping or waking up too late or too early? If your response is yes to all the above, chances are high that you could be exhibiting symptoms of depression.
Depression can happen to anyone, young or old. However, senior community members are prone to developing depression, which is a primary concern. The reason for this occurrence is often due to significant life changes. This may include health problems, dealing with grief and loss, fear of reduced mobility and cognitive function, and a reduced sense of purpose in life. These situations can exacerbate feelings of helplessness and may lead to depression.
No matter how everyday these situations are for seniors and how common depressive feelings can be, as a result, it still doesn’t make depression a normal part of getting older. Depression in seniors may get overlooked because it may not necessarily show similar signs and symptoms as exhibited by younger people.
Risk Factors and Causes of Depression in Seniors
Regardless of how it develops, depression is an illness that needs to be addressed with treatment from a licensed health professional. The condition may develop due to these contributing factors.
Feelings of loneliness: A dwindling social circle, primarily upon retirement, living conditions, and experiencing several losses due to death or moving away, can trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness. This can lead to depression.
Health condition: Many senior adults experience health problems, such as chronic pain, cognitive decline, and other illnesses that could intensify feelings of sadness and other negative emotions. This may trigger depression.
Anxieties and fears: A fear of dying, living alone, financial worries, and feelings of loneliness can create a lot of space for anxiety to grow among seniors. Left unaddressed and processed, this may lead to depression.
Loss of purpose: An entire active life creates a deep sense of purpose, but in many older adults, these activities tend to become inhibited as they encounter various physical limitations. Inevitably, such restrictions can affect their sense of purpose in life and contribute to depression.
Symptoms and Signs of Depression in Seniors
Distinguishing the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults is not always easy. They may tend to feel more numb toward the surrounding things. However, here are some of the general signs to look for:
- Feeling easily irritated.
- Being overly sensitive to minor things.
- Restless feelings and difficulty sitting still.
- Perpetually sad or indifferent mood.
- Fatigue and loss of energy.
- Trouble sleeping, waking too early, or sleeping for lengthy periods.
- Loss of significance in the things that used to bring joy.
- Either eating more or eating less than expected.
- Thoughts of death and committing suicide.
Try to observe their behaviors and be more sensitive. Becoming aware of these warning signs and seeking help as early as possible can help save someone’s sanity or life.
If somebody you know displays some or most of these signs, it is wise to give them a nudge to seek help or consult a health professional. Do not take depression lightly, as it may sometimes lead to severe consequences.
These are the most common ways of treating depression in seniors:
Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy could be an effective treatment to help reframe unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors that lead to depressive feelings. It all begins in mind, and although not everyone knows, therapists can help guide older adults toward making healthier adjustments for themselves.
Medications: The most common prescription for treating depression is anti-depressants. But seniors may not react to their doctor administering anti-depressants carefully as younger people do.
Lifestyle changes: Specific changes in a person’s lifestyle can affect their mood, emotions, and cognition, all leading towards either a healthier life or triggering a person to experience depression. Regular physical movement, enough sleep and rest, a healthy diet, and being socially supported are a few of the most important aspects of a senior person’s lifestyle that could help ease or exacerbate depression.
No matter how mild or severe, depression can be treated, but one should never deal with it alone. So, someone you care about is exhibiting signs and symptoms of depression. Make it a point to see a doctor who can give guidance and assist in healing.