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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Chim

It’s important to realize that depression isn’t an inevitable part of getting older

Have you lost interest in the activities you used to enjoy? Do you struggle with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness? Are you finding it harder and harder to get through the day? If so, you’re not alone. Depression can happen to any of us as we age, regardless of our background or achievements. And the symptoms of elderly depression can affect every aspect of your life, impacting your energy, appetite, sleep, and interest in work, hobbies, and relationships.

Unfortunately, all too many depressed older adults fail to recognize the symptoms of depression, or don’t take the steps to get the help they need. There are many reasons why elderly depression is so often overlooked:

  • You may assume you have good reason to be down or that depression is just part of aging.

  • You may be isolated—which in itself can lead to depression—with few around to notice your distress.

  • You may not realize that your physical complaints are signs of depression.

  • You may be reluctant to talk about your feelings or ask for help.

It’s important to realize that depression isn’t an inevitable part of getting older—nor is it a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It can happen to anyone, at any age, no matter your background or your previous accomplishments in life. While life’s changes as you age—such as retirement, the death of loved ones, declining health—can sometimes trigger depression, they don’t have to keep you down. No matter what challenges you face as you age, there are steps you can take to feel happy and hopeful once again and enjoy your golden years. Signs and symptoms of depression in older adults

Recognizing depression in the elderly starts with knowing the signs and symptoms Depression red flags include:

  • Sadness or feelings of despair.

  • Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains.

  • Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies.

  • Weight loss or loss of appetite.

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.

  • Lack of motivation and energy.

  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness).

* Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness or self- loathing).

  • Slowed movement or speech.

  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs.

  • Fixation on death; thoughts of suicide.

  • Memory problems.

  • Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene).

Depressed older adults may not feel “sad”

While depression and sadness might seem to go hand and hand, many depressed seniors claim not to feel sad at all. They may complain, instead, of low motivation, a lack of energy, or physical problems. In fact, physical complaints, such as arthritis pain or worsening headaches, are often the predominant symptom of depression in the elderly.

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