It is a pure myth that depression is a natural phenomenon of old age. Depression is a mental disorder that affects any age. While depression can have more serious effects on seniors, it does not make it part of the aging process. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects more younger adults than older adults. Women aging 40 to 49 are said to be the most vulnerable age group to depression.
When one is depressed, there may be self-denial. For younger adults, many can be successful in hiding their true condition. In older adults, the effects of depression can be more obvious. Depression is beyond the feeling of loneliness that we all are accustomed to. It involves mental dysfunction that may radiate to physical manifestation. When some say that it is normal to be depressed at times, it is not. It is abnormal because it means that our body and mind are not functioning well.
There can be many triggering factors that can cause the onset of depression. It has been studied to have links with our genes. For individuals who have family members with depression problems, it is more likely that they will develop this mental problem during their lifetime. Personal history can also be a factor. If you had depression bouts when you were younger, it may recur as you age. Although there is not much proof that individuals who are prone to depression have different brain chemistry, still, it is a possibility.
If there seem to be no links to the three above triggering factors, the cause of depression can be attributed to stress. Each individual has different stress levels and coping mechanisms. Those who cannot get over life’s failures and sad moments are prone to be stressed. Stress can make our body function differently. For older adults, depression can be caused when blood vessels constrict and stiffen, leading to the restricted flow of blood to the brain. When this happens, many brain functions can be affected, and depression can be one of the end results.
Depression in older adults can also be the result of ongoing medical conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease. In most of these diseases, there can be an abrupt change of activities of daily living, which means major adjustments are needed. When depression comes with other ailments, it is recommended that treatment should go hand in hand with existing health problems as it can worsen the present condition of a senior.
The following are manifestations that your seniors may be undergoing depression. Although signs and symptoms vary from one senior to another, the list only includes the most commonly seen manifestations.
Feelings of Helplessness
When a senior feels helpless and hopeless, he can be engulfed with so much loneliness. This bleak outlook can be managed by giving more time and attention.
Loss of Interest in Usually Pleasurable Activities
Once you discover that your old folk does not find joy doing things that were once pleasurable, it may mean he is going through depression. Change of hobbies and other activities of daily living can be usual signs of depression.
Appetite, Sleep, and Weight Changes
Seniors are prone to sleeplessness maybe because of stress. Loss of appetite can also be the result of extreme loneliness. Both may have obvious effects on a senior’s body structure and weight.
Feelings of Agitation and Irritability
When your once patient and mild-mannered senior becomes irritable and restless and is always angry for small reasons, do not be offended. Depression must have caught upon him.
Loss of Concentration and Energy
If you have noticed that your old folk does not seem to listen to you, it does not mean that he is not interested but can mean that he is losing his concentration. He may not also seem happy seeing after a while. This is because he must have lost most of his energy.
Constant Bouts With Headache, Cramps, and Digestive Disorders
When a senior often experience these issues without clear causes, they are signs that your beloved folk is undergoing some bouts of depression.
When a senior always cry, it can really be very upsetting. This can be caused by morbid thoughts about death, bouts with pain and other ailments, and feelings of hopelessness.
Indeed, seniors should deserve our utmost understanding. By knowing the above symptoms, we may be able to do our part to alleviate some of the effects of depression.