Depression and anxiety can affect anyone. Seniors are no exception. While there isn’t a direct correlation between aging and an increase in mental health illnesses, some people find they struggle more with negative thoughts and feelings as they grow older.
However, just because a person is older doesn’t mean they should suffer from depression in silence. Many discover that making new friends at a senior independent living facility can help boost their spirits. Counseling and medications may also prove helpful when battling an anxiety disorder. Before choosing a course of action, it’s best to determine what caused the depression in the first place.
Why Do Some Older Individuals Struggle with Depression?
As a person ages, they undergo a range of physical and mental changes. Some seniors have severe health issues. Others need constant care. Things that were once easy may become more challenging, and many watch their loved ones pass before them. All these changes can take their toll on a person’s overall well-being.
Elderly individuals often mistake depression and anxiety as part of the aging process. According to the CDC, depression is not normal and only affects 1-5 percent of the senior community. This number increases for patients who are hospitalized or critically ill.
Some health conditions, especially those that affect mobility or quality of life, may leave a person feeling sad or hopeless. Common illnesses associated with an increased risk of depression include heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, and high blood pressure. Certain medications list mood disorders as adverse side effects. Even a new diagnosis can spark anxiety in an otherwise happy person.
Warning Signs of Anxiety or Depression Disorders
Anxiety and depression are very real, no matter a person’s age. Those struggling with depression may look normal to outsiders, but in actuality, they are fighting an internal battle. The older population, however, is less likely to seek help than younger people.
Seniors suffering from these mental illnesses shouldn’t ignore the warning signs. Mood disorders manifest in a variety of ways. Some people find it difficult to concentrate, and they may notice a cognitive decline. Others withdraw from society or lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable.
Diagnosing Aging-Relating Mood Disorders
There are three common depression diagnoses: major depression, dysthymia, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Major depression is a chronic condition. Elderly patients with this diagnosis often struggle to get out of bed in the morning. It can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Psychosis is also common. Dysthymia is a more mold form of depression that lasts for several years. SAD comes and goes, and it’s usually most active during certain times of the year.
Luckily, there are proven treatments for all types of depression. Talking to a doctor should be a senior’s first step. They may recommend dietary changes or prescribe medications to reduce symptoms. Regular therapy can also help. Therapists know different coping mechanisms to improve a patient’s quality of life.
Don’t Accept Depression or Anxiety as You Age
Everyone has bad days, and it’s not always possible to avoid anxious situations. However, the elderly shouldn’t accept chronic depression or anxiety as their new normal. These disorders are not a typical part of the aging process. Instead of ignoring the signs and symptoms, older patients should talk to their doctor right away. The sooner a senior seeks help, the sooner they’ll be able to enjoy their golden years.