Dealing With Depression In Adults Over 65

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Depression in adults that are over the age of 65 is a significant factor in the high suicide rates among older adults.  The percentage of older adults that commit suicide is highly disproportionate compared to their proportion of the population.  Using the United States as an example (one of the few nations with good data concerning suicide among the elderly), currently 13% of the population of the US is elderly, or over the age of 65 and yet they accounted for 19% of all suicide deaths in recent years.  However, this is not a well-known fact. Suicide in older adults is not widely recognized or treated.  Worse still, many older adults who commit suicide have visited their doctor within a month of committing suicide and no one ever noticed anything wrong.  All of this data adds up to one thing-depression in older adults is very serious, and warrants education.

Difficulty In Diagnosis And Contributing Factors

When people experience depression they usually have feelings of sadness, grief or emotional angst.  Often these moods come and go depending on the circumstances in a person’s life.  In older adults Dysthymic disorder and depressive symptoms that may not meet the full criteria for diagnosing a disorder are much more common.  The elderly are considered to be at a higher level of risk to develop major depression.

Many elderly people have serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, or disabilities.  Older adults also have to contend with struggles over money, worry about who will take care of them as they age, and sometimes a fear of dying.  Unfortunately many health care providers overlook depression in older adults as merely a side effect of having health or financial problems.  This is one of the key reasons why depression in adults over 65 so often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Research And Promising Progress

Research has been done to try to get a better understanding of what causes depression in a person.  Scientists have used brain imaging techniques to study how depression affects the brain and the normal daily functions of life.  These studies have shown that when a person is depressed the neurotransmitters that are responsible for communicating are out of balance.  These tests also help to determine the effectiveness of anti depression drugs by studying how the medications affect the neurotransmitters.

Older adults who suffer with depression can feel better with proper care and treatment.  Research has shown that 80% of older adults have improved with the help of appropriate treatment such as medication and psychotherapy, or a combination of both.  Combining treatment methods has also been found to reduce the likelihood that the older adult will become depressed again in the future.

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