Depression in Older Adults: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

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Do you feel sad without any reason? Have you lost your interest in the stuff you loved once? Do you feel worthless or failure? Are you finding it hard to do your normal day to day activities? 

If you feel all these things, then you are not alone? There is no fixed age of when depression will happen, it can happen at any age.

Feeling sad, losing your interest, or feeling helplessness is not depression, it is more than that. It’s a common mood disorder that needs timely treatment. It causes many problems in your life that affect your feelings, and how to run your daily chores such as eating meals, sleeping, or doing your regular work.

Sadly, many times most of the older adults fail to identify the symptoms of depression in themselves and they don’t try to take help for their problems. There are many reasons why we overlooked depression in older adults: 

  • Many times we think that depression is a normal part of ageing. 
  • When you live alone that can also lead to depression, when there are few to notice your symptoms.  
  • When you don’t realize that your physical illness is a sign of depression. 

Everyone should realize that depression can happen to anyone at any age. Most of the older adults are not depressed and that’s good news. Around 1% to 5% of people with depression live in the community, about 13.5% of people require home health care for their problems, and 11.5%  are patients in older age hospitals.

Symptoms of Depression in older adults

Many times we don’t identify the symptoms of depression in older adults. Some of the signs and symptoms are: 

  •  Feeling sad or hopelessness
  • Unexplained pains
  • When you lose interest in your favourite things or hobbies
  • When you suddenly lose or gain weight
  • When you feel helpless
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • When you are not able to sleep properly (sleeping in the day, staying asleep, oversleeping)
  • When you feel life worthless or being burden on others
  • When you work or speak slower than usual
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Thoughts of suicide 
  • Memory problems
  • When you neglect your personal care like skipping food, personal hygiene, or forgetting to take medications. 

Causes of Depression in older adults

We face many life changes that can increase the possibilities of depression as we grow older. Some of them are: 

  • Health problems: There are many health issues that contribute to depression some of them are chronic or serious pain, cognitive decline, damage to your body due to sickness or surgery. 
  • Solitude or loneliness: depression can get triggered because of many factors like living alone, death of a loved one, moving to a new place or loss of driving privileges, etc. 
  • Reduce sense of purpose: many times when people retire can increase the risk of depression due to loss of identity, status, self-confidence, and financial security. 
  • Fears: when you have a fear of death and anxiety over financial problems and health issues.
  • Loss of loved ones: when we lose our loved ones, life partner then, that can be the cause of depression in older adults. 

Medical conditions that can cause depression in older adults 

Many time the cause of depression in older adults is because of medical conditions and everyone should be aware of that. A painful or life-threatening medical condition can make your symptom of depression worse.

Some of them are:  

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Medications that cause or worsen depression in older adults:

  • Sleeping pills 
  • Calcium-channel blockers
  • Blood pressure medication (e.g. clonidine)
  • high -cholesterol drugs (e.g. Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor)
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Tranquillizers (e.g. Valium, Xanax, Halcion)
  • Painkillers and arthritis drugs
  • Heart drugs containing reserpine
  • Steroids (e,g. Cortisone and prednisone)
  • Ulcer medication (e.g. Zantac, Tagamet)
  • Anticholinergic drugs used to treat GI disorders
  • Estrogens (e.g. Premarin, Prempro)

Self-help for older adults

People think that after a certain age older people can’t learn new skills, make new lifestyle changes or try new things or activities. The human brain never stops changing and every person can learn everything at any age.

To get better from depression, people should enjoy every little thing, find a new passion, adapt to changes, be socially and physically active and should be connected to loved ones.

1st tip: Reach out to people and stay connected   

You don’t want to meet or see anybody when you are depressed. Support of family and friends matter a lot in recovery from depression. So people with depression should make contact with others to overcome the issues. Ask your close friend or pal to meet you. 

You can build a new relationship at any time its never too late.

  • Get out to in the real world
  • Volunteer your time to help other
  • You should join a depression support group
  • Join some club or take a class to learn something new
  • Take care of a pet

2nd tip: Find a purpose to live

You should enjoy your life and should be engaged in something to overcome depression. We lose things that occupy our time as we age.

  • Try to get involved in the functions and activities of your community
  • Travel
  • Learn new skills

3rd tip: Adopt new and healthy habits

It’s hard to find motivation when you are depressed. But you can change your habits to overcome depression symptoms. You will feel better if you take care of your body.

  • Move your body- do exercise daily
  • Eat healthy food
  • You should get quality sleep
  • Try to spend time in sunlight

How you can help an older adult with depression

If your loved one is suffering from depression, then you can help them by offering emotional support and listen to them properly with patience. Help them find a better doctor and give them moral support.

Tips for helping an older adult:

  • Talk to them regularly and listen properly
  • Prepare a healthy meal
  • Encourage them to take medications on time

Treatment 

If you think that you or your loved one is suffering from depression then you should consult a psychiatrist for counselling and treatment. Depression is a serious illness and it can be treated. 

There are many types of treatment available for depression but the most commonly used are through psychotherapy and medications. Sometimes treatment is done by one method and sometimes a combination of methods are used for treatment. Treatment methods differ according to the symptoms of the person.

  • Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is one of the best treatments for depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to treat people as it helps people in changing negative thinking. other therapies which are used talk therapy, problem-solving therapy, etc.

  • Medications

Antidepressants are the best medication for the treatment of depression. They help in improving your thinking and to control stress, mood. Before finding the best antidepressants medicines you have tried many medicines.

A psychiatrist is a person you should visit for the treatment. If you reside in Jaipur or in nearby places, and you are old then you should visit the best psychiatrist of Jaipur for the depression treatment. Doctor Sanjay Jain has experience treating people for more than 14 years. He provides the best treatment of depression problems in older adults.  He uses the latest technology for the treatment and provides treatment by all the types of treatment like psychotherapy, medications, etc.

He strives to do his best and make every patient a healthy and happier person.  To ensure every person is well aware of mental health issues and can get timely treatment, he personally writes articles and blogs about it for the newspaper. He also cures other mental issues like anxiety, stress, OCD, schizophrenia, headaches, old age psychiatry, etc. 

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Hi! AJ is the founder and editor of GPF, He is passionate about marketing, trends and business things. Guest Post Feed is an online news, trends and information website that provides meaningful knowledge about business, finance, marketing, lifestyle, and much more.

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