Depression In The Elderly – The Facts


Depression in the elderly is common. There are various factors that contribute towards this condition. Oftentimes it is a dramatic change in circumstances such as the loss of a life partner, an illness or children moving away to start their own lives which can have a very negative effect on the mood of anyone particularly the elderly.

The facts about depression are:

1. Depression is a serious medical condition that can cause a disruption in the daily functioning of a depressed person. This is contrary to the belief by many that it is just another condition that comes with age. People who are extremely depressed may do things that will harm them. The part of the brain regulates behavior, mood, appetite, thoughts or sleep does not function normally in the people who have depression.

2. Most people who experience depression do not get medical assistance. It is only a paltry 39 per cent of people who are suffering from severe depression approach professionals who deal with mental health conditions. Many depressed people have never had their problem diagnosed or they have never received the level of treatment that is needed for their condition. In some instances depression in the elderly can be difficult to treat. This is only a small percentage because majority of the cases are treatable using talk therapy and/or antidepressants. Treatment is more effective if it starts as soon as the condition is discovered.

3. The risk of getting depression is brought about by a combination of psychological, environmental and genetic factors. If your parents had depression, the likelihood of getting depressed is three times more but it is not a given that you will suffer from depression.

4. Depression can present itself with physical symptoms. Chest pain, head ache, dizziness nauseated sensations and feeling sickly are some symptoms that can develop due to depression. It also causes difficulties in sleeping, change in appetite, weight and exhaustion. It also causes irritability, hopelessness and anxiety.

5. Depression in the elderly can affect any elderly person not just elderly persons who have a history of emotional problems. Depression can be triggered by trauma, illness, loneliness, chronic pain, financial worries death of close person or job loss or any change in life circumstances.

6. Side effects of medication and being isolated socially are two major causes of depression in the elderly.

Remember, people can and do make recoveries from depression and go on to lead their best lives imaginable. Seek help.