There has been a stigma placed on mental health issues. Some may feel embarrassed that they have a diagnosis of a mental illness, such as depression, and feel they should just work harder to not feel "down about things." Depression is not a "normal" part of aging, but is common among older adults. Fear of death or dying, as well as anxiety over financial problems or health issues are the main causes of depression in these older adults. Depression may be harder to recognize in seniors than in younger people. This is not something that can be overcome without treatment. Here are some signs and symptoms of depression in older adults to be on the watch for:
- A persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness, or having trouble sitting still
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Eating more or less than usual, usually with unplanned weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of death, suicide, or suicidal attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease with treatment
- Frequent crying
If you or a loved one is demonstrating any of these symptoms, it may be depression. It is important to check-in on the older adults in your life, as well as communicate with them when you notice something out of the ordinary. Talk to your doctor if you or the older adults around you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. Your doctor will come up with treatment plan that you all decide on together.
Sources: National Institute on Aging
Written By: Care Manager - Misty Carmichael RN, CCM
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