Tips for Seniors: Understanding and Identifying Depression

Jan 23, 2014 / Geriatrics / Seniors

Do you often feel sad or depressed? If so, you are not alone. Depression is a common problem for many people as they get older. It can be brought on by the death of a loved one, increased isolation from others, medical issues, and other problems as we age.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of depression you should be aware of include:

  • Loss of motivation/fatigue
  • Persistent sadness
  • Losing interest in pastimes and hobbies
  • Loss of appetite
  • Physical pain and headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Neglecting personal care
  • Irritability
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Thoughts of suicide or dying

The Importance of Getting Care

Depression is not an inevitable part of aging. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, the most important thing to do is seek help from your doctor. Depression can be a serious mental illness. However, for those who have been diagnosed there are many effective treatments including medication and psychotherapy. Whether mild or severe, depression is not something you have to live with.

Alcohol and depression

Some seniors use alcohol to make themselves feel better and deal with physical and emotional pain as they get older. While alcohol may make you feel somewhat better initially, it only causes more problems over time. Besides impairing brain function, it can make symptoms of depression worse. This is because alcohol is a drug that is classified as a depressant. For this reason, it can interact in negative ways with antidepressants, making them less effective. So be sure to carefully limit any use of alcohol if you are being treated for depression.

It’s normal to occasionally have a bad day or feel sad, especially if you are sick or have recently lost a friend or a loved one. However, consistently being sad or depressed should be a major cause for concern. So be sure to talk to a medical professional if you think you have a problem. Depression needs to be treated as soon as possible – not ignored.

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