What is depression? Why is it difficult to identify in seniors? How is the treatment of depression different in seniors? Depression is much more complex than sadness. Did you know that suicide is a common cause of death in the aged? Depression effects a person’s mood, health, mental function, and lifestyle.
The signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly include:
· Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
· Feelings of loneliness
· Insomnia – the inability to sleep (some CPAP or respiratory items can help)
· Hypersomnia – excessive sleeping
· Inability to concentrate
These symptoms are often overlooked in a senior citizen. This is due to the fact that many of the symptoms of depression are thought to simply occur naturally in the aging process. For example, retired individuals may consider it natural to deal with feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. However, depression is not considered normal at any age. Furthermore, medical illness, isolation, and certain commonly used medications may cause depression, including some high-blood pressure and high-cholesterol medications. If depression is suspected, it should be discussed with a doctor.
After depression has been identified, there are several options for treating depression. Anti-depressants may be prescribed, but these often carry additional risks for older adults. Anti-depressants may interact with other medications and some anti-depressants cause rapid bone loss in the elderly. However, some anti-depressants may be used safely under the supervision of a doctor. Many herbal remedies and natural supplements, including St. John’s Wort and Omega-3 fatty acids, are an inexpensive and effective treatment for depression and carry fewer side effects. However, some of these can interact with other medication, so be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an herb or supplement routine. Counseling or therapy may also be extremely effective. These are used to address the root cause of the depression, instead of just treating the symptoms.
Depression should not be accepted as a normal occurrence for seniors. It is not a condition to be ashamed of or ignored. Depression symptoms should be discussed with a doctor and treated. Relief from the symptoms of depression is possible.