Health & Fitness

Old Age Depression, Causes, Symptoms, Cures

Depression in the Old Age

If your aged parents show sudden moodiness, isolation, or continuous complaints about aches and pains, do not ignore it. These may be indications of old age depression, a critical medical condition that can be averted and treated.

When we reach old age, like 60 years and above, we inescapably experience physical weakening and some kind of loss – loss of health, life partner, siblings, and children or loss of income, and we may become dependent. 

If depression is not cured in time, it can badly affect the ability to recover from severe medical conditions like cancer and cardiac problems, and depression impairs the attitude of elderly patients with heart failure.

Signs of Depression among Older People

Be watchful for these signs of depression in yourself, your elderly parents, or your relatives.

For example, feeling continuously sad, moody, and low.

Becoming more and more isolated, like keeping away from family and friends

Unusual change in eating habits, like eating too little or a lot for no apparent reason

Changes in sleeping habits may be insomnia or unusually increased sleep.

Lack of concentration

Always feeling exhausted

Having negative thoughts such as too much guilt, unimportance, and vulnerability

Voicing suicidal thoughts

Causes of Depression during Old Age

There can be many reasons for depression among aged people. For example, falling prey to a severe medical illness such as cancer or having recently suffered from a disability such as a stroke and heart attack can cause depression.

Medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels can also cause or aggravate depression.

Other causes

Loss of social support systems includes losing a life partner and close family members (grief) and children leaving home.

Social isolation or seclusion

Treatment and Tips

You can manage this depression with exercise and social support. For better results, you can take part in organized senior activities.

Depression is often cured with antidepressants. Still, doctors usually suggest the lowest effective dose of antidepressant medicine that is most suitable for a particular patient.

Patients who do not recover with an antidepressant therapy or show intolerance to these medications or those at high risk of suicide may need some advanced stage treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

But counseling and psychotherapy must be done before medical treatments.

Start exercising

Participate in lighter physical exercises to alleviate symptoms of depression (e.g., walking, yoga, tai chi). Physical activity liberates endorphins which are feel-good chemicals produced by the brain. In addition, group exercise can help prevent social isolation; it cures depressed mood and averts functional falls.

Talk to someone

Pick up the phone and talk to a friend or see a counselor. It will eradicate the feeling of being lonely.

Take care of a pet

A pet can be a great companion for the elderly.

Get out of the house.

A sparkle of sunshine can enhance the mood of a person enduring depression. So go for outings or let natural light into the house.

Watch out for symptoms of depression, and don’t be reluctant to get help. If you’re a senior, do talk to your doctor about your emotional health. You are precious, and you deserve to live a happy, contented life.

Dr. Ramsha Shahid

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