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What Are The Signs And Treatments For Depression In Elderly?

Ananta F. Benvenuto Saturday, July 24, 2010 ,
Depression in the elderly can often remain untreated and even undiagnosed for a number of reasons. A major part of this is due to the difficulty in separating the symptoms of depression from other ailments they may have.
These symptoms can manifest from negative life events that can grow in number the more years we live.
Some of the events that can cause this situation include:
Chronic illness, pain or disease, financial strain, a loss of job, retirement or a loss of a significant other.


Symptoms of depression:
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, However, there are classic symptoms that are easily recognized when one is educated and knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms to look for. If you know of an elderly person with these symptoms, contact their health care professional immediately for help.
  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping.
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of despair, helplessness and low belief in self-worth.
  • Suicide is being considered.
While depression tends to be more common in the elderly, it is not something that should be expected of an elderly person and therefore overlooked. There are several factors that make the elderly more at risk for depression.

Depression risk factors:
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Chronic physical pain
  • Chronic disease, such as cancer, arthritis, and diabetes
  • Medications
  • Abuse of alcohol
Most people who have been diagnosed with depression have someone in their family who is also depressed. The factor of age is significant, due to having lived a longer life you will have experienced many losses along the way. These can include losing a spouse or child, as well as other close and beloved family members and friends.

Gender: Depression is more common in females with hormones and in particular menopause being a major factor in this statistic. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment commonly used to combat this.

Pain & Disease: Constantly being in pain or dealing with disease can weaken even the strongest of minds.

Medications: There are side effects to most medications, and one of these can be depression. This is often true in medications such as zovirax, muscle relaxants or anticonvuslants when taken by the elderly.
When these medications are required for health, then another medication must be added to combat the depression that another drug may have caused. There has to be a better way.

Alcohol: If an elderly person suffers from depression, then the abuse of alcohol (itself a depressant) can only worsen the situation.

If you know of an older person who has the signs and symptoms of depression, it is very important to seek the help of a mental health professional as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment for depression in the elderly.

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