The National Institute of Mental Health considers elderly depression to be a major public health problem. Clinical depression in the elderly is common, affecting nearly 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression. This is most likely because depression impacts older people differently than younger people. And oftentimes the elderly and their families misidentify depression symptoms as “normal” reactions to life stresses, losses, or the aging process.
Late-life depression is frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses, disabilities, and the medicines used to treat them. If not caught early, depression in the elderly often increases their risk of death from illness such as cardiac disease. Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increases the likelihood of death from those with illnesses.
Because the elderly often lose their social support systems, and are naturally expected to slow down, doctors and family members often miss the signs of depression. As a result, effective treatment often gets delayed. When life’s changes as you age, things like retirement, death of loved ones, and declining health can sometimes trigger depression.
Depression can happen to anyone at any time. Those most at risk for becoming depressed late in life are:
- Single, unmarried, divorced, or widowed
- Lacking a supportive social network
- Experiencing stressful life events
Physical conditions like cancer, dementia, and chronic pain further increase the risk of depression.
While depression and sadness might seem to go hand-in-hand, many depressed seniors claim not to feel ‘sad.’ Most seniors complain, instead, of low motivation, a lack of energy, or physical problems such as arthritis or headaches.
There are several treatment options available for treating depression in the elderly. Medicine and psychotherapy are great first steps when it comes to seeking treatment. When treating seniors, you must carefully consider the risk of side effects or potential reactions with other medicines they may be taking for illnesses.
For those who do not respond to medicine or counseling, newer forms of brain stimulation methods such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can be of help. TMS Neuro Institute offers TMS treatment in Los Angeles. To schedule a consultation, call 888-823-4867 or block an appointment online here.