Depression in the Elderly

Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Older Adults

In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, grief, loss, or passing mood states, symptoms of depression in the elderly tend to be persistent and to interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function.
Recognizing that symptoms in older adults are often missed, many healthcare professionals are now learning to identify and treat the underlying depression seen in some older people. It is also important that family members identify the signs of depression in their elder relatives. Often, seniors do not realize they are depressed, or do not seek treatment for emotional problems.
Many symptoms are associated with depression, and some will vary, depending on the individual. Some of the most common symptoms are listed here. If you or a loved one has several of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to seek medical attention. These symptoms can include:
  • Insomnia
  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Excessive worry
  • Inability to complete normal routines
  • Irritability or short-temperedness
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and/or normal activities
  • Persistent headaches, stomach aches, or other chronic pain that does not go away when treated
  • Showing signs of hopelessness or expressing concern that he or she has become a burden (in these cases, help should be sought immediately)
  • Increased dependence on family
  • Difficulty focusing, remembering, or making decisions
  • Loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, including sex
  • Frequent crying.
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