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Generally, while depression is a more common experience for older people, it is by no means a normal consequence of aging. A certain percentage of all age cohorts are depressed, but a higher percentage is expressed in older populations. It is important for older individuals to realize that while depression may become a more likely eventuality as one ages, it is preventable with talk therapy, increased socialization, and medication. Certain circumstances unique to older populations make diagnosis and treatment less likely to occur, therefore, making for the increased incidence of depression. Some of these circumstances include the increased likelihood of chronic, debilitating disease processes. In addition, the common belief among older citizens that seeking help for depression is acknowledgement and expression of weakness, severely limits individuals seeking treatment. As a consequence of these and similar age-related factors, depression goes undiagnosed and untreated. In addition to realizing there are reasons for increased incidence of depression in the elderly, it is also important to realize what depression is, and what it is not. This applies to all age cohorts especially the aged. Depression is not due to limited character nor is it a sign of a weak personality. A person that is depressed cannot just “snap out of it” any more than one can “snap out” of diabetes or cancer. Depression can be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, stress, medications for other medical problems, and the symptoms experienced as a result of disease processes.
The good news is that depression is treatable. The key is to seek help when needed and be evaluated and treated before the depression snowballs and exacerbates other symptoms and disease processes.
Manifestations of depression include: sadness or irritability, loss of enjoyment of previously pleasurable activities, changes of weight or appetite, changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or insomnia), feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness, inability to concentrate, chronic fatigue, and recurrent/self-destructive thoughts. Ask your doctor about depression.
WESTMORELAND COUNTYAREA AGENCY ON AGINGINFORMATION LINE200 SOUTH MAIN STREETGREENSBURG, PA 15601CONTACT: MARK HANNA724-830-44441-800-442-8000