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Depression in the Elderly
Depression among senior citizens is a more common problem then people might think. Statistics show that approximately 6 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from depression. Among them, only 10 percent receive proper treatment. Unfortunately, late-life depression is usually confused with the effects of the multiple illnesses associated with this age and the medication used for their treatment, or it is considered normal among elders. However, it must be emphasized that depression is NOT a part of the normal aging process. Growing old can offer many advantages such as becoming more wise, patient and content with the life, but it can also be the cause of several disadvantages. The body slows down which leads to a decline in energy levels and efficiency, an increased risk for medical problems, declining ability to live life as one used to, and in some cases, the loss of independence. Getting older also means retirement, losing social networks, decrease in income, family members, and relocating or changing residences - all of which can lead to depression. Left undiagnosed or treated, depression can cause emotional pain for elders and their families.
Depression in seniors does not have to be confused with temporary down moods, sad feelings, and lethargy caused by disturbing or upsetting events. Depression is characterized by a persistent down mood that does not improve over time and interferes with the normal functions and activities.
The symptoms of depression in the elderly often include:
2. Environmental Factors:
3. Physical factors:
- An inherited tendency toward depression.
Depression, if not diagnosed or treated, decreases the persons quality of life and could lead to fatal consequences such as suicide or non-suicide mortality. Statistics show that the highest rate of suicide in USA is among older, white men, and the main cause is untreated depression.
Depression substantially increases the risk for death in those that suffer from medical conditions or physical illnesses. It can increase the impairment resulted from the medical problem by stopping the improvement progress and can interfere with persons ability to follow a recovery plan and the necessary treatment.
Article by Alina Morrow
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