Depression in seniors is less common than depression in younger individuals. However, aging — coupled with depression — could be a dangerous combination for elderly individuals suffering from a chronic illness, loss of mobility and independence, as well as general feelings of sadness. Additionally, depression increases the risk of suicide among seniors. Fortunately, there are ways to save your loved ones from this condition.
Depression Presents Extra Challenges to the Elderly
While 80% of depression in seniors could be treated successfully, aging and depression present special concerns in seniors. For one, chronic diseases, stroke, heart disease, as well as diseases linked to aging such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s come with symptoms that mask, imitate, or make symptoms worse. This could make diagnosing and treating depression more difficult in seniors.
Likewise, many seniors — and sometimes, their family and caregivers — believe that depression is just a typical part of growing old. Some might even be in denial or embarrassed about being depressed and getting help. Additionally, as home health care services providers in Naperville explain, seniors might be more sensitive to certain kinds of antidepressants and might be more likely to have adverse effects.
Treating Mild Depression in Seniors
Treatment could start with a review of the senior’s medications, usually stopping or adjusting specific medicines. Depending on how far along the depression is, treatment could likewise include:
– Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is usually the first line of treatment for mild depression.
– Psychosocial treatment, which involves addressing social interaction, is extremely vital for seniors. Usually, this kind of therapy for easing sadness could go a long way towards recovery. Group exercises such as swimming or walking could be immensely effective.
– Aside from treatment, having a support system is especially vital for the elderly. This include companion care, sitter assistance, group meals, and motivational activities such as volunteer work that could help encourage socializing and restore their sense of purpose.
Treating Moderate to Severe Depression in Seniors
In the event that psychotherapy or social support doesn’t work, other treatments such as the following could be used in combination with social support and psychotherapy:
– Antidepressant Medications – These include SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These antidepressants work by boosting serotonin levels in seniors, which are chemicals that function to combat depression. On the other hand, antidepressants might likewise cause bones to weaken, which in turn could increase the risk of fractures.
– ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy – This type of therapy involves electrically inducing seizures in patients in order to alleviate the symptoms of depression. This is usually recommended for seniors suffering from severe depression and those that don’t get relief from more conservative treatments since ECT comes with an increased risk of memory loss.
It’s imperative for seniors, their family, and caregivers to know that depression is NOT a normal part of growing old. While the combination of aging and depression could make diagnosing and treating depression more difficult, just like depression in younger individuals, depression in seniors is treatable.