Clinical depression in seniors is becoming more common and this is a worrying concern for the country. However, only a small minority of seniors who suffer from depression are getting treatment and this may largely be due to the varied symptoms of depression that also depend on age range.
To begin to understand depression in seniors, we first need to understand what depression is. Depression is a mood disorder, otherwise known as major depressive disorder that makes individuals feel a lack of interest in life or be in a state of constant sadness. Most people may feel sad or hopeless at some point of their lives and this is perfectly normal. However, depression is different due to the intensity of emotions it evokes, and its duration.
Depression in Older Adults vs. Depression in Teens and Young Adults
If depression is generally understood as an intense, prolonged period of hopelessness and sadness, how then does it differ in older and younger adults? In older adults, depression can be more serious as it is generally tied with disabilities, medical conditions, and usually spans a longer duration.
To elaborate, it has been found that seniors who are experiencing depression are at higher risk of dying from diseases such as cardiac disease. Depression can also significantly hinder an older adult’s ability to rehabilitate and recover from any illnesses. For these reasons, it is important that depression in seniors is quickly evaluated and treated correctly.
In addition, seniors may not have the same symptoms of depression as younger adults. Their symptoms may overlap with those of old age, dementia or other medical conditions such as moving more slowly, struggling to pay attention to their surroundings or feeling tired. This can make it harder to untangle the symptoms of depression to those of old age.
Risk Factors for Depression in Seniors
Factors that can raise the probability of depression in seniors include, but are not limited to those like gender, loss of loved one, insomnia, experiencing severe or chronic pain, social isolation, disability, or other illnesses.
Treatments for Depression in Older Adults
Treatment for depression in seniors include psychotherapy, counselling, medicine, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or other forms of brain stimulation. It should be noted that depression is not a curable disorder. However, with proper care and treatment, it is possible to achieve a good quality of life and remission from the disorder.
There can also be issues that affect the treatment potential of depression in older adults. Firstly, if complaints about depression are expressed in in terms of physical ailments and complaints rather than traditional symptoms associated with depression, it may delay proper attention and diagnosis. Secondly, due to seniors generally having more medical issues than younger adults, it could be possible that antidepressants are not a viable option or that treatment for depression might be deprioritized when compared to physical conditions.
There are many ways to help seniors cope with depression, one of which is to consider placement in a senior living community. In senior living communities, there are ample opportunities for older adults to have social interaction with peers their age, while also receiving quality round-the-clock care from certified professionals. Furthermore, having access to senior living programs mean that they can participate in well-designed activities that are targeted at minimizing emotional distress and promoting well-being.