Around 15% of seniors age 65 or older suffer from depression. That’s roughly about 6.5 million seniors. Depression can affect anyone. Only 10% of seniors that have depression receive any sort of treatment for the condition. This is because a lot of people don’t fully understand what depression is and looks like.
What is Depression?
Depression is defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection, but it’s so much more than that. In some people, depression may not be noticeable at all—often only revealing itself when no one is around. In others, depression may be so apparent that not noticing it would be simply avoiding it.
Types of Depression
Depression can come in many forms, but typically, there are three common types: major depression, persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia), and minor depression.
Classified as a type of depression that is less severe as other types with symptoms that do not last long. This type of depression is often confused with grief. Grief is the result of a loss, and is normal, especially in seniors. Only when grief sticks around too long can it turn into depression, but otherwise it is separate and short-lived.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
This type of depression is more severe than minor depression. The symptoms can last a long time.
Major depression is a serious condition that can affect you and your entire life. It can hinder work, relationships, sleeping, eating, concentration, and more. While some may only suffer from the crippling effects of major depression once in their lifetime, the majority of people with major depression suffer the effects off and on throughout life.
Signs of Depression
Regardless of the type of depression, symptoms are generally similar—for the most part the longevity of the depression is what separates the types.
- Persistently sad
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Appetite changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide
This list is certainly not comprehensive, by any means. But these are the most common symptoms.
There are numerous treatments available for those suffering with depression. The most common treatment comes in the form of medication and psychotherapy—sometimes used separately and sometimes used in conjunction with each other.
A common type of medication that is prescribed by a doctor to treat depression is known as an antidepressant. These kinds of medications can actually alter the way the mind release certain hormones and reduce, or even eliminate, depression. The medication typically begins working within a week or two, but for the most part, it will take several works to work fully.
Side effects of antidepressants are common, and include such effects as slight weight gain, diarrhea, sleepiness, and nausea and vomiting. Other side effects can occur, but are not as common.
Another form of treatment is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. Speaking with a trained professional to teach you new ways of thinking and acting that may contribute to depression. Psychotherapy has been shown to have great results when attended regularly. This is especially true when used with antidepressants.
What Else Can Be Done?
One of the first things you should do if you or a loved one has depression, or is suspected of having depression, is to call a doctor. Scheduling an appointment to talk about depression is vital in the treatment of depression.
Spending time with family and friends can also help ease the feelings of depression. Feeling lonely is a common symptom of depression. If you or a loved one live in a Bonaventure Senior Living community, there’s always lots to do to help with depression. There are always plenty of staff members and residents that would love to spend their time speaking and interacting with you or your loved one.
The number one thing to remember about depression is: If things feel or seem like they’re getting worse, please talk to someone. Anyone. Be well.