Recognizing and Treating Geriatric Depression

Posted on: Jul 27, 2017

Depression in older adults often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Depression is a treatable mental health problem.  It is not a consequence of growing older or a symptom of old age.
Recognizing Depression
The Mayo Clinic shares the following symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort.
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

These symptoms may occur for most of the day, throughout the day, and last for weeks, months, or longer.
Recognizing Geriatric Depression
Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

  • Memory difficulties or personality changes.
  • Physical aches or pain.
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, or loss of interest in sex – not caused by a medical condition or medication.
  • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things.
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings, especially in older men.

Treating Geriatric Depression
Depression is treatable. There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to relieve symptoms. Many people with depression can also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.
If you or someone you love is displaying symptoms of depression, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional. Addressing depression can lead to relief and improved quality of life.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).
 
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