Depression which is one of the most widespread conditions linked with suicide in older adults is commonly under-recognized and under-treated medical condition. In fact, some studies have found that many cases of depression in the elderly which directed to suicide had about seventy-five percent of them visiting their primary care physician within a month of their suicide. However, not all depression in the elderly results in tragedies, but should always be given enough attention and treatment if diagnosed.
Later in life, depression often coexists with other medical illnesses and disabilities. Additionally, advancing age is frequently accompanied by loss of key social support systems because of death of spouse or siblings, relocation of residence and / or retirement. Because of their change in situations and the fact that they're opposed to slow down, family and doctors may miss the analysis of depression in the elderly, resulting in delay in effective treatment, and many older people finding themselves having to handle the symptoms which could have been easily appreciated.
Depression in the elderly tends to last longer and also increases the risk of death. Nursing home patients' studies have shown that the occurrence of depression significantly increased the chances of death. It has also been linked to increased risk of death following a heart attack. For this reason, it is important to make sure that elderly people with depression even if mild, should be evaluated and treated.
Depression in the elderly affects about six million Americans age sixty-five and older but only about ten percent receive treatment. This condition can trigger long-term illnesses that are common in later life such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung cancer, cancer, arthritis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Depression in the elderly has about fifty percent higher healthcare costs than non-depressed seniors.
The risk factors of depression in the elderly include fear of death; recent bereavement; living alone or social isolation; certain medicines or combination of medicines; previous history of depression; past suicide attempt (s); family history of major depressive disorder; damage to body image such as amputation, cancer surgery, or heart attack; presence of chronic or severe pain; substance abuse; and other illnesses.
There are some treatment options available for depression. In a lot of cases, a combination of treatments such as antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is most successful.
There are other problems that affect treatment of depression in the elderly. The shame attached to mental illness and psychiatric treatment is even more overwhelming among older and is frequently shared by members of the patient's family, neighbors, and friends and this stigma can keep elderly people from seeking treatment. Elderly people may also not be willing to take their medicines due to side effects or cost. Additionally, certain other illnesses at the same time as depression can hinder the effectiveness of antidepressant medicines.
The National Institute of Mental Health prisoners depression in the elderly as a major public health problem.