Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Symptoms Of Severe Depression In Elderly

A Risk To Daily Living

Alcoholic Intoxication – -By Dr.Deepak Kelkar [MD]

Depression can also have potentially harmful effects on an older adults health in other ways. Depression can lead to eating habits that result in obesity or, conversely, can cause a significant loss of appetite and diminished energy levels, sometimes resulting in a condition known as geriatric anorexia.

Depressed older adults also experience higher rates of insomnia and memory loss. They also have longer than normal reaction times, increasing the hazards associated with cooking, driving, self-medication, and other tasks that require full attention.

Fixation On Death Thoughts Of Suicide

A person afflicted with depression may think more about dying and death. They may also ponder suicide and how they could end their life. These thoughts are known as suicide ideation. There is a strong correlation between seniors considering suicide and also experiencing chronic medical conditions or concerns at the same time.

On occasion, an individual may tell others about these thoughts. If someone is discussing death or suicide, it is critical that you seek assistance immediately. This may be their way of asking for help. In some severe cases of depression, an individual may also self-harm or hurt themselves as well.

Physical Effects Of Depression

Depression can appear physically via symptoms felt in the body. Examples of physical effects of depression include sleep disturbance, appetite changes, poor concentration or memory, and a loss of interest in sex. Some people with depression may also feel chronic pain, experience gastrointestinal issues, or have a higher level of fatigue.

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Elderly Depression As A Side Effect Of Medication

Symptoms of depression can also occur as a side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs. Youre particularly at risk if youre taking multiple medications. While the mood-related side effects of prescription medication can affect anyone, older adults are more sensitive because, as we age, our bodies become less efficient at metabolizing and processing drugs.

If you feel depressed after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor. You may be able to lower your dose or switch to another medication that doesnt impact your mood.

Medications that can cause or worsen depression include:

Language and motor skills are slow, but normal Writing, speaking, and motor skills are impaired
You notice or worry about memory problems You dont notice memory problems or seem to care

Whether cognitive decline is caused by dementia or depression, its important to see a doctor right away. If its depression, memory, concentration, and energy will bounce back with treatment. Treatment for dementia will also improve your quality of life. And in some types of dementia, symptoms can be reversed, halted, or slowed.

Diagnosis Of Geriatric Depression

1 in 10 Seniors Has Depression [Infographic]  DailyCaring

Proper diagnosis of geriatric depression can be difficult. The first medical point of contact for older adults is typically their regular doctor. If they are in an assisted living facility, care workers may notice the symptoms of depression.

A mental health expert will assess your symptoms, mood, behavior, day-to-day activities, and family health history. They will ask:

  • how long youve been feeling depressed
  • what brought on the depression
  • if youve experienced depression in the past

A person must display symptoms of depression for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with the condition.

You can also use this free online geriatric depression scale. It may be helpful in determining whether you or a loved one needs help. However, this should not be used as a replacement for an official diagnosis from a qualified mental health specialist.

Also Check: How To Stop Feeling Depressed For No Reason

What Is Depression In Older People

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect people of all ages. While it is normal to feel down sometimes, if you feel this way for 2 weeks or more, or your mood is affecting your ability to cope with everyday life, you may be experiencing depression.

Sometimes older people can think that symptoms of depression occur because of their age, poor health or dementia. Some older people prefer not to talk about depression, feel a sense of shame, or dont like to admit that theyre not coping. Sadly, this can lead to their not seeking help, or delaying assessment and treatment for a long time.

People who develop depression when they are over 60 often have other medical conditions. It is unusual for someone in good health to develop depression for the first time when they are over 60 but this can happen for some people.

This page is about depression in older people however, many aspects and risk factors are not age-specific. Go here for more general information about depression.

Depression In The Elderly

Depression is prevalent in all demographics and it is estimated that one in seven Australians suffer from depression at some time in their life. However, it can be particularly prevalent in the elderly and often goes unreported.

Older Australians are subject to depression triggers that arent relevant to the younger population.

Other factors include fear of dying and worries of being a burden to family. Elderly people also experience a sense of worthlessness or a general lack of interest in life.

Recognising depression in the elderly

Depression presents itself in a number of ways. Beyond Blue lists four areas in particular where symptoms appear:

  • Behavioural
  • Behavioural symptoms are usually the easiest for an outsider to recognise. They can include:

    • Avoiding anxiety-inducing things or situations
    • Ritualistic behaviour
    • A lack of assertiveness
    • Being startled easily

    Difficult thoughts

    Depression in the elderly can cause uncomfortable and intrusive thoughts in your loved one similar to these:

    • Im going crazy.
    • I cant control myself.
    • Im about to die.
    • People are judging me.

    They might also find themselves having upsetting dreams and flashbacks to unpleasant events from the past. All of this can also result in persistent worrying, rumination, and unwanted thoughts.

    Many people put these experiences down to getting older. However, this isnt necessarily the case they may be linked with depression.

    Depression-related feelings

    Physical symptoms of depression

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    How Is Depression In Older People Treated

    Your doctor can help build a mental health treatment plan with you. This may include a variety of different treatment strategies and tools. Older age does not make treatments for depression less effective.

    Your doctor may recommend physical treatments for depression. Some antidepressant medicines that work for older people can be very effective, especially for people with severe depression.

    Electroconvulsive therapy is only used to treat some types of severe depression if medicines have not helped or if your symptoms are severe.

    Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , is popular, proven and an effective intervention for depression. If you have hearing difficulties, are vison-impaired or have other needs, let your therapist know so they can adapt your treatment treatment.

    Self-help, alternative and complementary therapies can also be useful for older people with mild or moderate depression, such as:

    • spending time with friends, family or the community.
    • being physically active, either alone or with a group.
    • participating in music therapy designed for people with depression

    Prevalence Of Depression Among Older Adults

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    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , depression affects about 1%-5% of the general elderly population, 13.5% in elderly who require home healthcare, and 11.5% in older hospital patients.1

    Older adults are at risk of misdiagnosis and lack of treatment because some of their symptoms can mimic normal age-related issues. Symptoms can also be mistakenly attributed to other illnesses, medications, or life changes.2

    Elderly patients might also be reluctant to talk about their feelings or fail to understand that physical symptoms can be a sign of depression. For elderly people living independently, isolation can make it difficult to reach out for help.

    Also Check: Why Do Teens Get Depressed

    Common Types Of Depression In Elderly Men

    While most research to-date demonstrates that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men, suicide rates among men who do suffer from depression are higher.

    The subject of depression and suicide can be frightening, but it is important to keep in mind that not everyone who experiences depression will reach a point of desperation. There are different types of depression.

    • Minor depression symptoms are less severe and may not last very long
    • Dysthymic depression that lasts two years or longer
    • Major depression severe symptoms that interfere with work, sleep, study, and enjoying most aspects of life.

    Despite what some people may think, depression in elderly men is not a normal part of aging. We dont all reach our senior years and become despondent. Men with depression at an older age often have medical conditions, including heart problems, diabetes, cancer, or other health factors that contribute to feeling gloomy. Elderly men may also be depressed over loss of a spouse or other family members, boredom, or loneliness.

    Retirement can also trigger feelings of depression in men. They no longer have a set schedule to follow, they no longer feel needed or important. This can be hard for them to cope with. As age-related ailments set in and medications are required, depression also onsets often unexpected. This can sometimes be attributed to the medications being taken.

    Feelings Or Loss Of Self

    When a senior is depressed, they often may think that they are worthless. Often, the worse the depression, the more they feel this way. Worthlessness can be described as a feeling of desperation and hopelessness. Older adults experiencing worthlessness may feel insignificant, useless, or believe they have nothing of value to offer the world. Many depressed people expressed dislike for themselves. If you see any of these troubling signs in yourself or a senior loved one, it may be cause for concern and signal that depression is setting in.

    Read more of our top blog posts for seniors:

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    Recognising Signs Of Depression In The Elderly And What To Do About It

    by | | Articles, Health |

    Depression is a serious issue in any age group, but it can be especially difficult to deal with when it affects seniors. Its important to be able to recognise the signs of depression in the elderly in order to provide the necessary support.

    If youre concerned your loved one is experiencing depression, here are some warning signs to look out for and steps to help you find a way forward.

    Medical Risks For Seniors

    Physical Symptoms Of Depression In The Elderly

    People who also have chronic conditions such as heart disease or stroke have an increased chance of depression.

    According to the National Council on Aging, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition. Nearly 70% of those who receive Medicare a government insurance provider have two or more.

    This makes older adults more likely to have symptoms of depression. Other contributing factors include:

    • decreased folate levels
    • specific heart medications such as beta-blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors

    A 2022 study of people ages 55 to 75 years old found that long-term health conditions had a strong impact on depression in older adults and vice versa.

    Researchers also found that a fear of worsening health associated with a long-term health condition decreased independence for some, making their depression symptoms even worse. Many reported withdrawing socially, which prevented them from seeking help and getting treatment.

    This study was based on self-reporting so more research is needed.

    Read Also: Can Implant Birth Control Cause Depression

    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.

    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.

    Also Check: How To Support Someone With Depression

    Medication And Older Adults

    As you get older, body changes can affect the way medicines are absorbed and used. Because of these changes, there can be a larger risk of drug interactions among older adults. Share information about all medications and supplements youre taking with your doctor or pharmacist.

    Use this worksheet to help track your medications.

    Treatment, particularly a combination of psychotherapy and medications, has been shown to be effective for older adults. However, not all medications or therapies will be right for everyone. Treatment choices differ for each person, and sometimes multiple treatments must be tried in order to find one that works. It is important to tell your doctor if your current treatment plan isnt working and to keep trying to find something that does.

    Some people may try complementary health approaches, like yoga, to improve well-being and cope with stress. However, there is little evidence to suggest that these approaches, on their own, can successfully treat depression. While they can be used in combination with other treatments prescribed by a persons doctor, they should not replace medical treatment. Talk with your doctor about what treatment might be good to try.

    Dont avoid getting help because you dont know how much treatment will cost. Treatment for depression is usually covered by private insurance and Medicare. Also, some community mental health centers may offer treatment based on a persons ability to pay.

    What Are Risk Factors Of Depression

    Q Therapy Intro

    There are many things that may be risk factors of depression. For some people, changes in the brain can affect mood and result in depression. Others may experience depression after a major life event, like a medical diagnosis or a loved ones death. Sometimes, those under a lot of stress especially people who care for loved ones with a serious illness or disability can feel depressed. Others may become depressed for no clear reason.

    Research has shown that these factors are related to the risk of depression, but do not necessarily cause depression:

    • Medical conditions, such as stroke or cancer
    • Genes people who have a family history of depression may be at higher risk
    • Functional limitations that make engaging in activities of daily living difficult
    • Addiction and/or alcoholism included in Substance-Induced Depressive Disorder

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    Is It Grief Or Depression

    As we age, we experience many losses. Loss is painfulwhether its a loss of independence, mobility, health, your long-time career, or someone you love. Grieving over these losses is normal and healthy, even if the feelings of sadness last for a long time.

    Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isnt always easy, since they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Grief involves a wide variety of emotions with good and bad days. Even when youre in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.

    While theres no set timetable for grieving, if it doesnt let up over time or extinguishes all signs of joylaughing at a good joke, brightening in response to a hug, appreciating a beautiful sunsetit may be depression.

    When Is Electroconvulsive Therapy Used

    ECT can play an important role in the treatment of depression in older adults. When older people canât take traditional antidepressant medicines because of side effects or interactions with other medications, when depression is very severe and interferes with basic daily functioning , or when risk for suicide is especially high, ECT is often a safe and effective treatment option.

    Read Also: I Feel So Lonely And Depressed

    Social Isolation And Depression In Older Adults

    Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new attention to this issue however, many Americans felt socially isolated and lonely before the pandemic. If youre feeling socially isolated or lonely, and you cannot see your friends and family in person for any reason, try reaching out over the phone or joining a virtual club. Find tips to help you stay more connected.

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