Talking With Friends And Family About Suicide
Its important to watch for signs and symptoms of depression or suicide. Dont shy away from asking if a family member or friend is feeling depressed or suicidal. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is important. Asking if someone is having thoughts of suicide will not make them more likely to act on those thoughts. Your questions may help the person open up about how theyve been feeling and encourage them to seek treatment.
They Can Develop Abnormal Eating Habits
Abnormal eating habits mainly develop for two reasons: as a form of coping, or as a side effect of lack of self-care. Eating too little or too much is a common sign of depression. Overeating is often shamed the most, when food can be the one source of pleasure a depressed person is able to give themselves and thus causes them to eat excessively.
When a depressed person is eating too little, its often because their depression is affecting their appetite and making eating unappealing. It can also be a subconscious need to control something, since they cannot control their depression. If someone is undiagnosed or has not shared that they have depression, people will assume their eating habits are a personal fault and judge them for it, making the person feel worse.
Trigger: Perimenopause And Menopause
Hormone fluctuations, hot flashes, and life changes related to perimenopause and menopause can make your mood plummet. If you have trouble sleeping, a history of depression, or PMS, mood swings or depression may worsen during this transitional period.
Solutions: For mild depression, try self-calming skills such as yoga or deep breathing. Do things that make you feel better, such as exercise or going out with friends, or find a creative outlet. For more serious, long-lasting symptoms of depression, prescription medication or talk therapy can help.
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How Is Depression In Aging Adults Diagnosed
Most depression in later life is detected and treated by primary care providers. Unfortunately, its a diagnosis thats often missed. The recent National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey found that depression is 56% less likely to be diagnosed in older patients. This may be related to:
- Fear of stigmatization
- Depression symptoms being mistaken for medical illness symptoms
- Atypical depression symptoms
- Focus on other medical issues and lack of time to talk about mood
- Ageism and a presumption that feeling down is normal because of age or medical problems
Like most mental health disorders, doctors make a diagnosis of depression based on the persons symptoms, instead of relying on blood tests or brain scans.
Majordepression is a disorder with low mood that causes significant problems in day-to-day life, such as work, family responsibilities and relationships. There are also forms of depression which are less severe. Minor depression causes fewer symptoms, and may not be as disruptive, and dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder, is a low-grade depressed mood that may last a few years or longer.
The most widely accepted definition of major depression is in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, also called the DSM-5 .
According to the DSM-5, symptoms must:
Along with low mood and loss of interest, the DSM-5 criteria require 5 or more additional symptoms to be present, which I remember by the mnemonic SIGECAPS:
Depression Assessment Tools
Depression In Older Adults
- Guides & Publications
- Depression in Older Adults
If you have a sad, despairing mood that lasts for more than two weeks, it may be depression. Depression is not the same as sadness, though it can be triggered by the sadness caused by loss , stress or major life change . Depression can also be caused by some medical conditions, such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, stroke or Alzheimers disease. Certain medications and alcohol use can cause depression as well. Depression may also develop for no apparent reason.
People who are depressed cannot just get over it. Depression is a biological illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It affects thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physical health. Older adults who are depressed may have had episodes of depression throughout their lives, or they may have their first episode late in life. Depression can affect anyone at any age, but is often not recognized in older adults. This is because some signs of depression can be mistaken for signs of aging, and also because older adults who are depressed may not complain about feeling low. When left untreated, depression may continue for weeks, months or even years. Untreated depression is the main cause of suicide in older adults.
What are the signs of depression?
What can I do about depression?
Where can I get help or get more information?
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Exercise To Treat Depression:
From a physiologic standpoint, exercise has immediate and long-term benefits for mood. Vigorous physical exercise increases levels of helpful chemicals like brain-derived neurotrophic factor and suppresses the release of inflammatory cytokines. It can also be a mechanism to reduce social isolation and help to manage pain and other medical issues.
Theres scientific evidence that exercise helps with late-life depression symptoms. Cardio and weight resistance training are both effective, and most of the studies involved 3045-minute sessions 3-5 times per week.
Tip : Find Meaning And Purpose In Life
To overcome depressionand stop it coming backits important to continue to feel engaged and enjoy a strong purpose in life. As we age, life changes and you can lose things that previously occupied your time and gave life its meaning. Retirement, the loss of close friends or loved ones, relocating away from your social network, and changes in your physical health, finances, or status can impact your mood, confidence, and sense of self-worth. But there are still plenty of ways you can find new meaning in life and continue to feel engaged in the world. Sometimes its just a matter of reframing how you think of yourself or the aging process.
Focus on what you can still do, not what you used to be able to do. Maybe you feel frustrated that youre not able to do everything you once could, or at least not to the same levels? Or perhaps negative ideas about growing older have dented your self-confidence? Instead of focusing on what you once did, try focusing on the things you can do. Youll see just how much you still have to offer.
Learn a new skill. Pick something that youve always wanted to learn, or that sparks your imagination and creativitya musical instrument, a foreign language, or a new game or sport, for example. Learning new activities not only adds meaning and joy to life, but can also help to maintain your brain health and prevent mental decline.
Write your memoirs, learn to paint, or take up a new craft.
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Medical Treatments For Depression
If you’re experiencing moderate to severe depression your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medication, along with psychological treatments. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed when other treatments have not been successful or when psychological treatments aren’t possible due to the severity of the condition or a lack of access to the treatment.
Electroconvulsive therapy is sometimes recommended for people with severe, life threatening depression that has not responded to psychological therapy or medication. ECT can only be provided by psychiatrists and in specialist facilities.
Suicide Threats Or Attempts
Depressed teens have a high rate of suicide due to experiencing significant emotional pain that they want to stop. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.
Depression is a major risk factor for teen suicide. Other risk factors include family history, trauma, abuse, life stress, eating disorders, bullying, and drug or alcohol misuse.
Untreated depression can affect teens in devastating ways which makes it critically important to get help for a teen who is showing signs of this condition.
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Why Is Untreated Depression Considered To Be A Disability
Depression can render people disabled in their work life, family life, and social life. Left untreated, clinical depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the U.S. economy. Untreated depression is responsible for more than 200 million days lost from work each year. The annual cost of untreated depression is more than $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work, lost productivity, and direct treatment costs.
What Puts People At Risk
Most older adults are not depressed, Dr. Havemann says.
But those with a medical illness that impacts mobility and quality of life are most at risk. The following conditions, in particular, are associated with an increased risk of a mood disorder:
- Heart disease.
- Nagging aches and pains.
- Digestive problems.
Like younger adults, older adults have suicidal thoughts. But, while younger people may focus on hurting themselves, older adults may wish they wouldnt wake up in the morning or become ambivalent about their life or survival.
Older men are more likely to commit suicide than older women. But periodic suicide screenings are a critical health assessment for everyone in this age group, Dr. Havemann says.
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Medication Therapy Or Both
Not everyone improves with therapy alone.
Some therapists may wait to recommend talking to a psychiatrist about medication until you ask, so be sure to let them know if youd like to try a combined approach.
Whether youre considering therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or all of the above, you have plenty of options.
Many therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat depression, but thats not the only effective treatment.
Its absolutely normal to feel frustrated and powerless when depression intensifies and your usual coping methods no longer seem to make much difference.
This bleak outlook doesnt have to become your reality. These tips can help you get support.
Can Depression Affect Your Period
Yes, depression may affect your period. Depression can cause missed or irregular periods. During periods of stress or depression, hypothalamus function is suppressed. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls the functioning of the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the ovaries, so when the hypothalamus isnt functioning correctly, it can lead to ovarian dysfunction. Ovarian dysfunction can affect ovulation and the production of estrogen. When the ovaries arent working properly, ovulation may be delayed or stopped. This may result in irregular periods or missed periods.
Can depression stop your period? Yes, depression can stop your period. Not having your period for three months or more without pregnancy is called secondary amenorrhea. When the cause of amenorrhea is depression and chronic stress, its called functional hypothalamic amenorrhea.
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You Spend More Time Alone
With depression, you might find it challenging to enjoy the company of others for a number of reasons.
You may not feel up to socializing simply because you have less energy. Emotional numbness can make the social interactions you usually enjoy seem pointless.
Feelings of guilt, irritability, or worthlessness can also complicate your mood and make avoidance seem like the safer option.
Theres nothing wrong with spending time alone when you enjoy it. An increasing sense of loneliness, on the other hand, can make your mood even worse. You might begin to feel as if no one understands or cares about your experience.
They May Often Seem Exhausted Or Complain About Always Being Tired
A prevalent side effect of depression is constant exhaustion. Not everyone with the disorder struggles with it, but its extremely common. For those who experience this symptom with their depression, its often one of the hardest side effects to cope with.
Also, if someone is living with an undiagnosed depression disorder, the cause of their exhaustion can be baffling. They can get plenty of sleep each night and still wake up every morning feeling like they only slept a few hours. Worse, they may blame themselves, believing it to be laziness or some other personal fault thats causing their low energy levels.
This is also a symptom thats difficult to conceal for those who have been diagnosed with depression but are attempting to keep it from their peers, as it often affects their workload and personal relationships.
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Trigger: Type 2 Diabetes
Do you feel too listless to check your blood sugar regularly? Are unpredictable blood sugar levels making you feel out of control? Depression is a common and dangerous complication of many chronic conditions, including diabetes. Depression also may keep you from taking good care of your diabetes.
Solution: Talk to your doctor if you’ve been depressed for more than two weeks. Talk therapy, medication, and better diabetes control can help you manage both conditions. Depression is serious and if left untreated can be life threatening.
Depression And Suicide: Getting Help In A Crisis
Some people who are depressed may think about hurting themselves or committing suicide . If you or someone you know is having thoughts about hurting themselves or committing suicide please seek immediate help. The following resources can help:
- Call to reach a 24hour crisis center or dial 911. is the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon, which provides free confidential help to people in crisis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationexternal icon runs this lifeline.
- Get help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader, or someone else in your faith community.
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They Could Have A Tough Time Responding To Affection And Concern
The main misconception about depression, which has been hinted at in the paragraphs above, is that its about feeling sad.
On the contrary, depression is mostly not feeling anything, or only partially and briefly experiencing emotions. It depends on the individual, but some people with depression report feeling almost numb, and the closest thing to an emotion they experience is a kind of sadness and/or irritation.
Because of this, appropriately responding to gestures or words of affection will be difficult for them, or they just dont think about it any more.
They may even get irrationally irritated or annoyed with you over it, because it may simply be too difficult for their brains to process and respond to your loving gestures.
Depression: What You Need To Know As You Age
If youre one of the more than 14.8 million American adults who experiences major depression, you may feel so bad that you cant get out of bed, be around the people you love or participate in activities that you usually enjoy. Actually, there are more than 50 different symptoms of major depression, ranging from the well-knowncrying and sadnessto those you might never associate with depression, such as anger, workaholism and back pain.
Depression is a disease that affects every aspect of a persons life, not just mood, says Johns Hopkins expert Andrew Angelino, M.D., Chair of Psychiatry at Howard County General Hospital. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will be the second-leading cause of disability in the world, just behind cardiovascular disease.
People who are depressed are far more likely to have other chronic medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, back problems, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and to have worse outcomes. Untreated depression can even affect your immune response to some vaccines.
Depression is not just debilitating it can be deadly. An estimated one out of five people with depression will attempt suicide at some point.
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Studying How Depression Affects Dna
Han and colleagues examined the DNA of 811 people with depression and 319 people without. The participants were enrolled in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety.
Using blood samples, the researchers examined how the participants DNA changed with age. The study revealed that epigenetic changes took place more quickly in people with depression.
Epigenetics is the study of the changes in gene expression that do not affect the DNA sequence. Such changes can occur as a result of many factors, including environment and lifestyle.
One of the mechanisms through which epigenetic change occurs is called DNA methylation that is, when a methyl group is transferred and added to the DNA.
Overall, the scientists saw that people with major depressive disorder had a degree of methylation and epigenetic change that was indicative of an older age. More specifically, this means that those with depression were biologically older, by 8 months, than people without depression.
In some severe depression cases, this biological age was 1015 years older than the chronological age.
The study also found that those who had had childhood trauma were biologically 1.06 years older, on average, than people who had not experienced trauma.
The researchers replicated their findings by examining brain tissue samples.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
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Almost Nothing Sparks Your Interest
Depression commonly involves a decrease in your energy levels and a loss of pleasure in your favorite hobbies and other things you usually enjoy. As you work toward recovery, youll usually find your interest in these activities slowly begins to return, along with your energy.
With worsening depression, you might notice the opposite.
You might also have trouble mustering up enough energy to go to work or take care of basic responsibilities, like paying bills or preparing meals. Even necessary self-care, like showering and brushing your teeth, might feel beyond your current abilities.