Depression in Older Adults - Topic Overview
What is depression in older adults?
Depression is an illness that causes you to feel sad
and hopeless much of the time. It is different from normal feelings of sadness,
grief, or low energy.
Some people think that depression is normal
with age. But it's not. Older adults may go through major life changes or
challenges that trigger depression. Such things as losing a spouse, living with
a long-term health problem, or leaving a home you've lived in for many years
are more common among older adults than others.
Like others who
experience a life change, older adults may feel sad and may grieve and recover,
or they may develop depression.
Some older adults are more likely
to be depressed than others. Those who are more likely include:
- Older women.
- Those who are not
married or who have lost their partners.
- Those who don't have
friends or family who can support them.
- Those who have had a
medical problem such as a
broken hip or who have
- Those who drink too much
Why is depression a concern in older adults?
older adults, untreated depression can last for years. It can lead to or make
worse other problems in physical and mental health and in relationships with
others. It also makes suicide more likely. Older Americans have the highest
suicide rate of any age group, and depression is often linked to the suicide.
Older men have the highest rate of suicide of any group.
can help depression and help you enjoy your life more. It also makes suicide
less likely and may help older adults deal better with long-term health
Do older adults have different symptoms than others who have depression?
symptoms of depression, such as sadness and loss of
interest, occur in older adults just as they do in younger adults. But older
adults also may:
- Feel confused or forgetful.
seeing friends and doing things.
- Have a hard time
- Not feel like eating.
How is depression diagnosed?
Depression often is
missed in older adults.
- People may think that sadness or depression is
part of aging, so they don't take it seriously.
- The symptoms of
depression in older adults are sometimes like symptoms of other diseases, so
depression may not be recognized. For example, a family member or doctor could
mistake forgetting things as a symptom of
dementia rather than depression. But people can have
- Many older adults take many medicines, and certain medicines
may cause depression.
- Older adults may not seek help for depression
because they sometimes consider it a character flaw or weakness. They may blame
themselves for the problem or be too embarrassed to seek help. They may not
admit to feeling sad.
- The cost of doctor visits and treatment can
prevent older adults from seeking help for depression.