According to Medicine Net 17 percent of the people in the United States will be diagnosed with depression at some time in their lifetime. In fact, approximately 19 million people in the United States are living with depression right now. Of that 19 million people, approximately 6 million senior citizens from the age of 65 and over are also suffering from depression. The sad thing is that only 10 percent of the elderly receive treatment for depression. All too often seniors and their families believe that depression is a normal part of getting older. Depression is not normal at any age; depression is an illness of the body and the mind. Clinical depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals – norepinephrine and serotonin.
What is the difference between depression in seniors and younger adults?
There isn’t a huge difference between younger and older people when they suffer from depression. Depression often is centered on some type of loss. It might be the loss of a job, divorce, death, illness or injury. Depression at any age may be due to an imbalance of brain chemicals, environment, and personal circumstances. The main difference between depression in older people and depression in younger people is that older people aren’t as likely to recover quickly. Older people may not know or admit they are depressed as soon as a younger person might. Finally, older people may not seek help as soon as a younger person.
Depression in seniors – When older people suffer from depression, they are usually suffering from other illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and other diseases and conditions. Many people fall into a downward spiral of depression that relates to being disabled and various types of losses. Oftentimes, with the elderly, one is left alone because his/her spouse has died. When one’s spouse has passed away, there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.
Because it is so difficult to cope with loss of health, medical bills, loss of a spouse or sibling, depression can last much longer in an elderly person than it might in a younger person. Oftentimes, a senior citizen will look forward to retiring for years and then they don’t get to enjoy those years once they have reached retirement age. Sickness, financial burdens, and loss can change one’s circumstances so significantly that when an elderly person becomes depressed they don’t bounce back as easily as a younger adult might be able to.
All too often, the elderly are expected to be less active than a younger person; therefore, depression symptoms may go unnoticed for a long time. Depression symptoms include sleeping a lot, isolating oneself, weight loss, weight gain, crying, feeling helpless and hopeless. Sometimes these symptoms are taken as normal behavior in the elderly.
Depression in younger adults – Younger adults who suffer from depression are more likely to seek help from a medical or mental health professional when the symptoms of depression interfere into their daily lives. Many younger adults still have jobs to keep them active, and they may still have dependent children to take care of. When depressed men and women still have a fairly active life, they are more likely to seek help for their depression.
No one needs to live with depression. No one will think any less of you if you seek help for depression. Clinical depression isn’t something you just snap out of; it’s an illness, and it can be treated. When treated properly, the elderly and the nonelderly can lead healthy, productive lives.