Is depression a natural part of aging? While it is not a normal part of the aging process, it is fairly common in seniors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, specialists in geriatric psychiatry know there is a connection between depression and chronic illness, so seniors are naturally at risk.
Learning how to spot this problem in a senior is an important part of the caregiver role. With proper treatment, older adults will have a better quality of life in their senior years.
A Little about Depression
WebMD points out this condition is different in the elderly, because it is a comorbid illness. Stress and anxiety increase a senior’s risk of cardiac disease and death. Depression interferes with their ability to recover from another illness, too. A person who suffers a heart attack or undergoes surgery for a hip fracture will have a more difficult time recovering if he or she is depressed.
Certain factors increase a senior’s risk of depression.
- Gender – Females get depressed more often than males
- Marital status – Seniors who are single or widowed are more prone to depression
- Social isolation – Staying socially active can help prevent depression in seniors
- Medical condition – A diagnosis of dementia or cancer can lead to depression
The symptoms are similar at any age.
- Persistent sadness
- Lack of expression
- Social isolation
- Poor concentration
- Weight changes
- Increased alcohol intake
- Angry outbursts
Geriatric psychiatry treatment options vary, but may involve an age appropriate support group. This allows them to discuss specific concerns and to socialize. Some doctors may suggest an antidepressant, too. For those unable to tolerate drug therapy, electroconvulsive treatment may be a safe alternative.
The first step is recognition and that will probably come from family, friends and caregivers. From there, you can work out a treatment plan that will help.