Many people think once you retire and are finally not required to work anymore that it will be a happy life until you pass away. Unfortunately, often this does not turn out to be the case for elderly people. It is quite common for the elderly to become depressed after reaching retirement age.
Around six million Americans over the age of 65 years suffer from depression. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them do not receive the help they need since only 10% of these elderly Americans look for treatment. This is worrying since depression leads to more serious health problems at a higher rate with the elderly.
Depression affects older people more than younger
For the elderly depression is different than it is for those who are younger. Bouts of depression tend to be more prolonged in the elderly. Also, depression in older people is more likely to be overlooked since it is commonly suffered alongside disability and other types of illness and ailments.
Elderly who are depressed have a higher chance of dying from illness since depression dampens the body’s natural abilities to heal itself and fight off sickness. Research has also shown depression is correlated with increased risk of developing heart disease. Also, when an older person is depressed, he or she is more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.
Depression and insomnia among older people
Insomnia is a common symptom associated with depression among the elderly. It should also be noted insomnia can make depressive episodes last even longer and can also bring about new struggles with depression. With elderly patients it is important to avoid treating insomnia with drugs which can impair alertness, since it can increase the likelihood of falls. Several of these drugs can also result in respiratory depression.
What treatments for depression are good for the elderly?
Older people have various options available for treating depression. One way to deal with depression is through counseling or psychotherapy. However, in some instances medication may be necessary. Another option would be to consider brain stimulation methods such as electroconvulsive therapy. It is possible that a combination of treatments is the best way to go.
Do antidepressants work in treating depression in older people?
Although antidepressants are known to be effective treatment options for depression in people of all ages, they may be less effective for the elderly. On top of that, the side effects associated with antidepressant drugs have more risk for older people.
Some antidepressant medicines can result in feeling sedated and confused for elderly patients. Also, for older people these types of pharmaceuticals can make blood pressure drop too quickly when standing up suddenly. The chances of falling can be enhanced due to these side effects.
Mental illness stigma
The stigma associated with mental illness has been around for quite a long time. However, this has become less of an issue in overall society as time progresses and people become more educated about mental illness. On the other hand, people from older generations have internalized more of this stigma compared to younger individuals. This can result in elderly people being less likely to look for treatment for depression.
Seek treatment without delay
As you can see, the elderly has to be more careful about depression than younger individuals. If you are a caretaker for an elderly person, you think may be depressed, make sure to investigate the option of mental health treatment right away.