Depression in the Elderly

One topic in mental health that doesn't get much public attention is depression among our senior citizens.

It isn't uncommon for us to feel that loneliness, sadness and even depression are just to be expected as people age. In a culture that prizes youth and activity above most other things, the whole idea of aging tends to be considered a depressing thought.

Unfortunately, these attributes are not reflective of what is actually normal for the aging individual.

It is true that depression is common in the elderly population. Sometimes it is simply continuing as a chronic condition experienced throughout adult life and other times it starts up for the first time later in life.

Occasionally this occurs at the same time or as a result of serious illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, cancer or other age-related conditions, but it can also start up independently of physical ailments.

When it occurs in conjunction with other illnesses, depression is still treatable and should be dealt with. Co-existing depression can delay recovery or worsen the outcome of other illnesses.

Another common way that the elderly experience depression is as a side effect of certain medications. There are many medications that can have this as a side effect and if you are concerned that you or a loved one may be experiencing medication-related depression, speak with your doctor about it.

Not only is the risk of suicide greater among seniors, but according to several studies, up to 75% of suicide victims visited a physician within a month of their death. This highlights the need for more attention to be paid to depression among the aging population.

However, suicide is not the only way that depression can shorten life. The illness shortens life expectancy from many causes including increasing the risk of complications in other medical problems as well as increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Depression is not well recognized in seniors and, as a result, is under-treated.The individuals themselves and even health care providers tend to dismiss symptoms of depression as a normal part of aging when this is not the case.

Depression can be treated effectively in the elderly just as it is in the younger population.

Some feelings of loneliness or lack of energy might be more common among the elderly, but depression is more than this. Feeling sad at a loss or when upsetting things happen are normal experiences and an inevitable part of life, but feeling very bad almost all of the time for extended periods or when there are no obvious reasons for sadness is not normal.

Because symptoms of depression are similar to symptoms caused by some other conditions, it is important to see a physician and possibly a geriatric specialist for a full evaluation and diagnosis.

Depression is a chronic, recurrent condition and when being treated the goal should be complete remission of symptoms and a prevention of future recurrences. Do not be satisfied with partial improvement.

At Okanagan Clinical Trials there are currently depression studies ongoing for adults of all ages. No referral is necessary and as part of the study you will receive a thorough physical evaluation. Appointments can be scheduled at your convenience and transportation can be arranged if necessary. If you are interested in participating, contact us at 862-8141 for more information.

 

Current Studies

 Alzheimer's 

 Crohn's 

 Insomnia

 Migraine

 Narcolepsy

 Parkinson's 

  Ulcerative Colitis

 

 

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 Interested in participating? Call us for more information!

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