Elderly Depression

When it comes to elderly depression, by all statistical estimates it is vastly under treated. Some studies have shown that up to 75% of the geriatric population is depressed.

There are several reasons as to why someone becomes depressed as they age. Many times it may be due to chronic medical conditions, which in turn creates both physical and financial hardship. Other times there are situations that lead to depression which are listed below. Sometimes, a person with mild depression can move into more severe mood issues as they age.

Medical conditions that cause depression include:

  • Hypothyroidism or low thyroid.
  • Diabetes and it's complications.
  • Post stroke syndrome.
  • After a heart attack.
  • Cancer.

Emotional and situational problems can also cause elderly depression. Some of these conditions are:

  • Death of a spouse.
  • Death of a child. (Most parents believe they should not outlive their children)
  • Loss of home with placement in a nursing home.
  • Loss of financial support.
  • Forced retirement.
  • Forced dependance on family or friends.

Symptoms Of Depression In The Elderly

Symptoms in this population may be a bit different that those in the adult population. One of the most common symptoms is fatigue along with generalized sadness. Many times an older person will just "fold in on themselves", become less social and withdraw from everything. Other times they will become irritable and argumentative.

Keep in mind that depression is a neurobiological disorder of the brain. If someone is significantly depressed, telling them to just "cheer up" is not appropriate. Instead offer to take the person to their physician and discuss what you have noticed. Many of the elderly are hesitant to discuss their symptoms with the belief that mental illness would make them a social outcast.

Although the elderly rarely have headaches, because of depression they generally don't communicate their wants and needs too well. Remember that a new onset of headaches in the elderly could be a medical emergency such as temporal arteritis. If so, call the doctor and arrange for an appointment a soon as possible. Read about how to take a test for depression.

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