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Managing Depression in Your Senior Years

Depression is a serious mental illness. It can have an impact on how you feel, act, and think. Although sadness is a widespread condition among the elderly, clinical depression is not a natural part of the aging process. In fact, despite having more illnesses or physical problems than younger individuals, research shows that most older folks are content with their life. However, if you've had depression as a child or a teenager, you're more likely to develop depression as an adult. Depression is a serious condition, but there are treatments available to assist. Depression, for the most part, improves with treatment. Counseling, medicine, and other types of treatment may be beneficial. Help and treatment alternatives are available, so you don't have to suffer. If you suspect you might be depressed, talk to your doctor.

Older people can suffer from a variety of depressions, including:

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by symptoms that continue at least two weeks and impair a person's ability to conduct daily chores. Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder) — a depressed mood that lasts more than two years, yet the person may still be able to accomplish everyday tasks, unlike someone with Major Depressive Disorder. Substance/Medication-Induced Depression caused by the use of substances such as alcohol or pain relievers is known as depressive disorder. Depression Caused by a Medical Condition - depression caused by a different ailment, such as heart disease or multiple sclerosis.

Depression in elderly adults: Symptoms and Signs:

Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly is the first step in recognizing it. The following are red flags for depression: Sadness or a sense of despondency. Aches and pains that are unexplained or worsened. Loss of interest in hobbies or sociability. Loss of appetite or weight loss. Hopelessness or a sense of powerlessness. Motivation and energy are both lacking. Disruptions in sleep (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness). Loss of self-esteem (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing). Speech or action is slowed. The use of alcohol or other drugs has increased. Suicide ideas; fixation on death. There are issues with memory. Taking personal care for granted (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene).

Depression in older people has a variety of causes.

As we get older, we are more likely to experience substantial life changes, which can put us at risk for depression. These can include the following: Problems with your health. Illness and disability, persistent or severe pain, cognitive decline, and negative body image as a result of surgery or illness are all factors that can lead to depression. Isolation and loneliness. Living alone, having a shrinking social circle owing to deaths or migration, having less mobility due to illness, or losing driving privileges are all factors that can lead to depression. Sense of purpose is dwindling. Retirement can lead to a loss of identity, status, self-confidence, and financial security, as well as an increase in depression risk. Physical limits on previously enjoyed activities might also have an impact on your sense of purpose.

What is the treatment for depression?

Depression can be cured, even severe depression. It's critical to seek therapy as soon as you notice symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor or health care provider if you believe you may be depressed. An elderly man converses with a therapist. Depression-like symptoms can be caused by certain drugs or medical problems. A physical exam, information about your health and personal history, and lab testing can help a doctor rule out these possibilities. If a doctor determines that the depression is not caused by a medical problem, he or she may recommend some therapy.

Common forms of treatment for depression include:

Psychotherapy, counseling, or “therapy” can help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behavior. It may be done with a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), psychiatrist, or other licensed mental health care professional. Examples of approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT).

Medications for depression may balance hormones that affect mood, such as serotonin. There are many different types of commonly used antidepressant medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants commonly prescribed to older adults. A psychiatrist, mental health nurse practitioner, or primary care physician can prescribe and help monitor medications and psychological evaluation and refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist, to conduct the test.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a treatment that involves placing electrodes on a person's head to allow a safe, mild electric current to travel through the brain. This sort of therapy is normally explored only when other therapies have failed to improve a person's condition.

The use of magnets to affect the brain is known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). rTMS does not require anesthesia and only targets particular areas of the brain, which helps to lessen the adverse effects of ECT, such as fatigue, nausea, and memory loss.

For older individuals, treatment, especially a combination of psychotherapy and medicines, has been demonstrated to be successful. Not all drugs or therapies, however, are appropriate for everyone. Each person's treatment options are unique, and it may be necessary to try many treatments before finding one that works. If your current treatment plan isn't working, it's critical to tell your doctor and keep looking for anything that will.

To improve their well-being and manage stress, some people may attempt complementary health treatments such as yoga. However, there is no evidence that these treatments may successfully cure depression on their own. While they can be used in conjunction with other therapies recommended by a doctor, they should not be used in place of medical care. Consult your doctor about which treatment(s) you should attempt.

Don't put off seeking help because you're worried about the cost of treatment. Depression treatment is frequently covered by commercial insurance as well as Medicare. In addition, some community mental health institutions may provide therapy based on a person's financial situation.

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