Depression in the Elderly
Sometimes, it is mistakenly assumed that aging and depression go hand-in-hand. Well, they do not have to. Depression does not need to be part of the life-cycle of growing older; but, sadly, it many elderly do suffer from depression. The question becomes, why does aging and depression sometimes go together? As it turns out, there are many answers to this question:
Depression in the elderly is often overlooked by healthcare providers and is known to be a serious problem in the elderly. Depressed elderly, for example, are significantly more likely than those who are younger and battling depression to actually kill themselves. So, it is clearly that depression in the elderly should be taken seriously. The key becomes in recognizing the warning signs of depression in the elderly.
Depression in the elderly in treatable. The best treatment for depression starts with accurate diagnosis to rule out other diseases that might mimic depression. Once properly diagnosed, the best strategy to is treat the depression “holistically” – focusing on the unique factors that might have contributed to the depression in the first place. For example, to the extent that social isolation and grief is contributing to depression, the elderly individual might be encouraged to get involved in activities outside of the house and referred to a grief support group. If professional help is needed, a combination approach that utilizes both medication and psychotherapy is often the most effective approach. Here, it is essential that healthcare providers communicate with each other to avoid dangerous drug interactions. In the end, though, it is critical that the signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly be taken seriously because of the devastating effects of depression on the lives of the elderly if left untreated.