- Depression is not a normal part of aging, although older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression.
- Depression is not just having “the blues” or having emotions related to major life events (e.g. mourning over the loss of a loved one, retirement, etc.).
- Older adults often do not seek help for this condition, and providers often misdiagnose and undertreat depression.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a true medical condition (like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure) that can be properly diagnosed and effectively treated.
Think DEPRESSION when one or more of the following are present:
- feelings of sadness and anxiety lasting for weeks at a time
- feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, and/or irritability
- loss of interest in activities once pleasurable
- fatigue and decreased energy
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- sleeping difficulties, including early-morning
- wakefulness and excessive sleeping
- overeating or loss of appetite
- thought or attempts at suicide
- unexplained aches and pains, including headaches, digestive problems, abdominal cramps, muscle soreness, etc.
HOW MANY OLDER ADULTS ARE DEPRESSED?
Although it is estimated that about 1-5% of the elderly living in the community are depressed, this figure dramatically rises to 12% in those requiring home or hospital health care.
WHERE TO FIND HELP:
There are a number of excellent websites, including:
- National Institute of Mental Health – www.nimh.nih.gov
- Geriatric Mental Health Foundation – www.gmhfonline.org
- American Psychological Association – www.apa.org
If you are concerned about a loved one, offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated. If he/she is in “crisis,” immediately call 911 or visit a nearby hospital’s emergency department.