Many older people do not recognize their symptoms as being due to depression. If a family member who is familiar with depression mentions the word depression to their older family member, they may react in anger and denial. Acceptance that a mental illness is responsible for their symptoms is not something that many of the older generation are open to.
Depression can cause pain and an aggravation of medical conditions. Being that the person is older, even doctors may not recognize that their patient is actually suffering from depression. Sometimes it takes the observations of a family member in order for the doctor to know what is really going on in the patients life. Many doctors will prescribe pain medication for their patient when an antidepressant and talk therapy may be the needed cure.
When people get older they naturally begin to experience more physical changes as their bodies age. Retirement is another change in an older person’s life and for someone without a hobby, they often feel excluded from life. Between losing their sense of purpose and their body aging, symptoms of depression commonly follow.
Some elderly people will exhibit an extreme change in their personality which can manifest as irritability. They may become withdrawn from life because they are limited by a physical ailment. Their eating and sleeping patterns may drastically change also. Worry about finances can cause them to withdraw further into themselves and they may avoid communication even with loved ones.
Not being able to adapt to the changes that becoming older can bring can cause depression. The rate of suicide in older Americans is high because they are not getting screened for depression and they are not aware that their feelings are treatable.
If there is an older person in your life, the best thing to do is to keep aware of changes in their behavior. If you suspect that they may have clinical depression, go to their doctor with them. Try to speak to their doctor in private because using the term depression may not be something that your older relative wants to hear. Although awareness of mental illness is more widespread, the older generation still rejects acceptance of it. Telling their doctor about the symptoms that you notice will help the doctor to better treat any physical ailments that the patient may complain about.
For more information about depression in the elderly, follow the link below to resources and links for help.