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Elderly Depression Is Different From Depression Experienced by Other Generations

[10 Jun 2010 | 2 Comments | 5 views | Author: Dee Braun, DrR, CA, CCT]
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Depression is a well known condition in today’s society. It has been made known that even the very young may suffer from depression and much has been said and written about recognizing depression in teens and the younger generations.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, elderly depression is a topic that more often than not appears to go by the wayside and whether this oversight is brought on by the fact that the younger generations are more fertile ground for being marketed to directly, or if the older generation is more content with fading in the background is unclear; unfortunately, this lapse has led to a certain segment of the population being dramatically underserved in this area of health care.

Elderly depression is different from depression experienced by other generations and it is vital for caregivers, loved ones, and also physicians to keep this in mind whenever dealing with a geriatric patient who may be exhibiting signs of the disease. It has been estimated that only about 10% of those affected with elderly depression receive treatment, and it is anyone’s guess why the numbers are so small.

Perhaps, to some degree, they may find validation in the fact that physicians often fail to shift gears when dealing with the geriatric population and instead measure them by the same benchmarks as they would someone who is one or two generations younger.

Quite frequently the symptoms associated with depression are missed because they appear to coexist with certain already diagnosed illnesses and thus are presumed to be related. In other words, a cancer survivor who is battling a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and feelings of unhappiness is thought to simply be responding to the cancer treatments or aftermath thereof, rather than battling depression itself. This results in the elderly patient suffering from depression that is left untreated and, in some cases, may result in a drastic decrease of the quality of life for that individual.

The risk factors for elderly depression also differ from those that are experienced by other generations. By and large here is an abbreviated list:

Elderly Depression Is Different From Depression Experienced By Other Generations

1. A coming to terms with one’s own mortality; this usually happens in the aftermath of a spouse’s or close friend’s death. A personal fear of death may be increased, as may a crisis of faith.

2. Having to live alone or being dependent on the kindness of strangers, such as hired caregivers, for everyday activities.

3. Sometimes a combination of medications may bring about an imbalance in the brain of certain neurotransmitters which will then result in a clinical depression. Although easily treated, it is often not diagnosed since physicians do not usually ask about the occurrence of certain side effects unless the patient volunteers the information.

4. An impending medical treatment that may be invasive in nature, such as cancer surgery or the loss of a breast in women, a looming prolonged hospital stay, or simply the realization that a medication may need to be continued indefinitely with no hopes of getting well again or at least well enough to no longer require the medication.

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Elderly Depression Is Different From Depression Experienced By Other Generations