Apr 30, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of San Marcos
Despite the startling statistic that as many as 68% of seniors experience depression, most don’t know very much about it.
It’s true that it is a confusing disease, as it is not visible and appears somewhat differently in each person, but it is a condition to be taken seriously, especially in seniors.
Because of its different appearance in seniors, it’s important to educate yourself on the varying symptoms.
Our aging brains are susceptible to damage in many ways, and depression is one of them.
Not only this, however, but depression can also worsen our memory, speech, movement, focus, and so forth.
These symptoms are typically attributed to dementia, but with proper diagnosis, physicians would find it to be depression in many, many cases. Treating the depression can help lift some brain fog and get the senior back to normal (or close to it, at least).
As odd as it sounds, depression can really impact a senior’s digestive health. The psychological stress can cause this, as well as the physical changes in the brain that come with depression in older adults.
Some examples of common gastrointestinal problems in these patients are:
Change in appetite and drastic changes in weight, such as losing or gaining weight unexplainably, are also signs.
In seniors, newfound or heightened pains in the body can actually indicate an underlying cause of depression.
The pains can vary. For example, a study from the late 1990’s shows that seniors who had frequent headaches or migraines were also more likely to have depression. A 2008 study especially confirmed the correlation with migraines.
Similarly, heart conditions and depression were shown to be correlated in several studies. A 2010 study shows that chest pain patients actually had depression by about 3 times the rate compared to that for depression in the general population.
Another study from 2015 shows that with each achy joint in the body, there was a 19% increase in the risk of depression.
With all of these pains, the direction of causation is unclear. Depression may trigger or worsen the pains, or the pains themselves may contribute to depression over time. Regardless, treating the depression is a step in the right direction of alleviating some pain, too.
The assumption with depression is that the individual is simply sad all the time, but this is far from the truth. A whole range of emotions can be felt vividly in this person, though the feelings are mostly negative.
One of these feelings to notice in seniors is constant irritability. This often goes by unnoticed, as it is expected of seniors to be irritable, but if you notice it in yourself or someone you know, it’s worth looking into.
Other feelings of concern include:
If you believe you or your senior loved one is showing signs of depression, talk to your doctor right away. They can refer you to a geriatric psychologist, someone who specializes in depression and other cognitive conditions in the elderly. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can begin treatment and get back to the quality of life you should be living.