Depression is a common mental and psychological disorder and it is characterized by feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, loss, anger and a lack of interest in life. Occasional mood swings and sadness are normal but when such feelings interfere with the daily activities of a person’s life and last for weeks or longer, then it could be a case of depression.
In this article, we’re going to talk about geriatric depression or depression in the elderly. Depression is a common problem in the elderly, but that does not mean that it is a normal part of the ageing process.
Ageing is a complicated process, various factors like psychological, social, financial and biological factors can mentally affect the elderly and could be responsible for depression. Enumerated below are a few causes of depression:
- Family history of depression
- Lack of support from immediate family or living alone
- Loss of a loved one, health, independence, a job etc.
- Financial difficulties
- Substance abuse
- Certain medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease etc. can cause depression in older adults.
- Medicines can also cause depression as a side effect.
- Depression can cause physical pain in the elderly. They could be experiencing headaches, joint pain etc.
- Sadness. While most of us think that depression is almost synonymous to sadness, many depressed elderly don’t have feelings of sadness.
- Loss of appetite and loss of weight
- Change in sleeping patterns or problems sleeping
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Loss of interest in social activities
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Bouts of crying
- Neglecting personal care
Diagnosing depression and treating is rather difficult, but it’s not impossible. Doctors generally evaluate the person’s behaviour, family history of depression, symptoms, mood, duration of feeling depressed, medical history etc.
It may take time to find the right combination of treatment that would best suit an individual suffering from depression. Treatment for depression varies from person to person. It usually involves a combination of medications, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
Just like other physical and mental ailments, depression can affect a person at any age. Depression is not a sign of weakness. If you think you have the symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach for help. Don’t let go of a chance to live life to the fullest. With some help, you can tide over this challenge and enjoy your golden years.