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Can Seniors Suffer From Depression? Actually, Yes

Not just another natural aspect of ageing, depression is a real medical diasorder that can be managed. Nevertheless, depression is more capable of affecting senior citizens.

Be cautious not to overlook your elderly parents' abrupt changes in mood, their withdrawal, or their constant groans concerning pain. These might be indications of ageing-related depression, a significant mental illness that is treatable and preventable.

Understanding Depression

Depression is a significant mental health condition that can have a profound impact on one's feelings, behaviours, and thoughts. The depression symptoms, like those of many other illnesses, frequently vary in the elderly from the younger people. Still, it is indeed vital to understand that depression is not even a central aspect of becoming older and neither is it an indication of weakness or a deficiency in your personality. Anyone, regardless of status, can experience it at any age.

In essence, a diverse variety of variables may be risk factors for depression in older adults.  Certain individuals may experience depression as a result of brain imbalances that impact mood. Many others experience depression following a significant life-changing event, much like a clinical condition or the death of a loved one, which could also worsen depression.  Individuals who are subjected to a great deal of stress occasionally experience depression, particularly those who are caring for family members who have a major disease or disability. For unknown reasons, some individuals could develop depression.

How Does It Manifest to the Elderly?

Although it may seem that sadness and depression constitute the same thing, an elderly person who could be depressed claims they do not even truly feel sad at all. Rather, they could lament their lack of energy, drive, or physical complaints.  In actuality, the earliest sign of depression in ageing is frequently physical symptoms, including arthritic pain or a recurrence of migraines.

Major depression frequently co-occurs and lasts longer among older adults with various medical conditions and disabilities. Cardiovascular disease and illness-related death are linked to depression in older persons. In addition, depression limits an elderly person's capacity for rehabilitation.

Older People Can Get Depression Too, and It’s Not Normal

Approximately 6% of elderly Singaporeans 65 and over suffer from depression. In essence, depression is more than merely experiencing the blues or the sentiments we have while losing a loved one. The same as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is a diagnosable medical illness that may be treated.

In almost any age demographic, depression cannot be attributed to a single factor. According to some findings, the condition may have a genetic component. But mental disorders in older individuals are affected by biological, social, and psychological variables as well. Nevertheless, understanding the warning signs and symptoms of depression in seniors might help:

  • Having a constant sense of sadness, gloom, and distress

  • Lack of focus

  • Growing more and more socially withdrawn

  • Change of eating and sleeping patterns

  • Irritability, agitation

  • Tiredness and low energy

  • Indications of guilt and hopelessness

Additionally, elderly depression increases the likelihood of committing suicide, particularly given that getting old is frequently accompanied by the collapse of social support networks due to the passing of a spouse, retirement, or migration. Even the mental health professional and family members could overlook clinical depression symptoms owing to changes in an older patient's environment and the expectation that they will slow down.

Depression in Elderly People Should Not Be Ignored

The idea that seeking therapy for depression is an indication of the weakness of character or instability can make elderly individuals hesitant to seek treatment for mental illness or make it difficult for loved ones to persuade them to visit a mental health expert.

Undertreatment and incorrect diagnoses are common in older folks, which can eventually make depression worse. Healthcare professionals may disregard severe depression among elderly adults because they believe their symptoms are simply a normal response to disease or other changes that may come with ageing. Such a notion is frequently held by older persons themselves, who frequently avoid seeking assistance as they do not realize that the right treatment could improve their quality of life.

The fact of the matter, however, would be that depression treatment, whether through medications, counselling, or a mix of the two can be just as successful in older individuals as in young adults.

The most important thing to remember is to watch out for any indications of depression or suicidal thoughts. Trying to ask a family member or friend whether they are depressed or considering suicide is never a bad idea. Even though it could be awkward, the conversation is necessary.

How to Find Help if You Think Your Elderly Is Suffering From Depression

Once treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of these methods, the majority of elderly folks notice an alleviation of their symptoms. Volunteer to accompany a loved one who you are worried may be depressed to a specialist so they can be identified and treated.

Please get in touch with the Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline right away if you or a loved one is in need of assistance if they are experiencing an emergency at 6389-2222.

Ensure That Your Seniors Have a Network of Social Support

The sheer aspect of depression makes it difficult for someone to ask for help, exhausting their energy and identity. It can be particularly challenging for seniors who are depressed if they don't think depression is a serious disease, are also too self-conscious or embarrassed to ask for help, or worry about burdening their families. These seniors may have grown up in a time when the mental disorder was heavily stigmatized and misconstrued.

By providing emotional support, even if they are in assisted living facilities, you can help an elderly relative you care about who is depressed. Be patient and kind while you listen to your loved one. Simply being present to listen is enough; you don't have to try to cure someone of their depression. Do not, however, criticize the feelings being expressed; instead, highlight the truths and offer encouragement.

Let Your Ageing Love One Know They Are Not Alone

Age-related depression in older individuals has to be identified and treated, especially for elderly patients in an old folks home, as the country's population ages. Several people ponder whether depression can be avoided and how they might be able to reduce their chances of developing the condition.

Although healthier lifestyle modifications may have a long-term positive impact on your mental health, the majority of episodes of depression cannot be controlled. It is imperative to keep an eye on your elderly loved ones since severe depression necessitates medical treatment. Most significantly, reassure them that they are not alone in their struggles, help is always available.

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