There are roughly 35 million Americans who are 65 years of age or older.
Studies suggest that almost one in every five of these elderly Americans is depressed. Bereavement, isolation, health complications, and handicaps are common causes of this depression. In elderly adults, particularly, depression often goes untreated. Many times this is because the older person does not seek help or because their symptoms of depression are overlooked as natural symptoms of aging that to not necessarily have to be addressed. Since there are helpful medications to treat depression, it is important that we understand signs of clinical depression so that one may seek professional help if needed. Here is a list of notable symptoms of depression:
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Chronic fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness;
• Chronic feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism;
• Insomnia or excessive sleeping
• Irritability or restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that you once considered pleasurable
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Persistent aches and pains, headaches, cramps, and digestive problems that persist
• Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts
If you believe an elderly parent or loved one is experiencing depression then you should contact a health professional for further help. It is important to leave the depression diagnosis to a doctor and not make it yourself: Not only can depression be a nuanced condition, but there are also some conditions prevalent in the elderly, such as dementia, that can be confused with depression and may require alternate treatment methods.