Depression in seniors? Except for depression in children and depression in adults, depression in seniors also often occurs. Statistics have shown that 10 to 15% of seniors suffer from a minor depression, which is a mild form of depression. These are general statistics. If we reduce the target population and focus on seniors in an institute, the percentage increases to 38%.
Seniors are often faced with many challenges. They see their children leave home, they retire and then start to look for new ways to spend their time. Also, they generally have to come to terms with the fact that some things have become more difficult as they get older, and they have to deal with losing partners. These changes are not always easy to deal with and they can leave a large mark.
To help you in your search for symptoms of depression in seniors and treatment of these symptoms, we will describe symptoms as well as possible types of treatment for depression in seniors in this article. Furthermore, we differentiate between dementia and depression, two illnesses which are very similar.
Depression in seniors: the symptoms?
Just like depression in adults, there are several symptoms which can help one recognize depression in seniors. These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of depression in adults. Just like in adults, at least 5 of the following symptoms need to be explicitly present for at least 2 weeks before one can consider a 'diagnosis' of depression in seniors:
- Depressed mood during a large part of the day
- Decreased interest and enjoyment of normal daily activities
- Change in eating habits or weight
- Psychological or motor apathy or agitation
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of guilt, blaming oneself
- Feeling worthless
- Issues focusing
- Difficulties thinking
- Suicidal ideation or lots of thoughts about death
Depression in seniors is more common than one would hope. Especially in seniors who have lost their partners or have difficulties taking care of themselves, we notice higher levels of depression in seniors. These circumstances, of course, are difficult to deal with. If you lose your partner, with whom you have spent most of your life, or you suddenly notice that you find that it has become difficult to do simple things, your mood can be severely impacted.
Sometimes it can also be so that the impact of the life of a senior is so large that they no longer see a meaning in life. For children or grandchildren this can also be difficult to process. If you visit your mother or grandmother and you hear that 'it is time for it to end', this can be something which is difficult to deal with. For the senior in question themselves, this of course also is very difficult to handle. Some seniors namely feel like they are stuck in a body which no longer does what they want it to do.
Depression in seniors: the body and depression
When speaking of depression in seniors, we often notice that these people have more physical complaints than seniors without depression do. This is because the hormones, which take care of reducing pain, no longer are produced at a normal level, meaning that the senior experiences more pain.
Depression also has a large influence on the body. People with depression can start to experience physical symptoms of depression after a while. Some symptoms which one might experience include:
- Stomach complaints
- Digestive issues
Depression in seniors: dementia or depression?
Dementia and depression have many symptoms in common. For example, both illnesses show problems with memory and issues with focus. Depression in seniors can, for example, have the symptom of the seniors losing interest, meaning they cannot answer questions regarding what time it is, simply because they do not pay any attention to this.
In certain centers, standard tests are done upon intake, which measure both depression and dementia. However, these are specialized centers. Not every institute can take these tests to determine the difference between dementia and depression on a standard basis. This is why depression in seniors is often believed to be dementia instead.
In some cases we even notice that, when the depression in seniors is treated, the dementia also suddenly disappears. In such cases, depression was at play rather than dementia. Oftentimes, depression in seniors is also called pseudo dementia, because they are so similar. So, make sure not to just assume that dementia is at play, and also eventually research the depression hypothesis.
Depression in seniors: a treatment for depression?
Just like depression in adults, a depression in seniors can be treated by standard types of care. A psychiatrist or psychologist can thus help you in treating the depression. In certain specialized centers, for example when looking to set a diagnosis, there also often is psychological help available in order to treat this depression in seniors.
If you find it difficult to get out of the house in order to treat your depression, you can also make use of new types of therapy. Doctors and psychologists developed "15Minutes4Me.com", an online self-help program which guides people for fifteen minutes each day from their homes. This way, you can work on your depression every day in order to regain confidence in your own capacities and once again discover what it is that makes you happy.
Depression in seniors: the depression test?
If you believe that depression in seniors might be at play or that you experience certain depression symptoms, you can always take the free depression test here. This test takes about 20 minutes of your time and will help you in determining the severity of your symptoms and which method of treatment could help you.