Geriatric Mental Health

Learn how I beat Depression

Depression and other mental health problems can affect anyone of any age and in geriatric mental health the pattern of mental health conditions and the symptoms of mental health problems are much the same as they are in any age group, however on saying that there are some differences.

Symptoms of depression in geriatric mental health

The symptoms of depression are the same regardless of whether an individual is a young adult or in the last few years of life. Generally speaking, depression is characterised by the following:

•    Low moods and sadness
•    Changes in appetite
•    Altered sleeping patterns
•    Reduction of social life
•    Complaints of physical aches and pains,
•    Anxiety and fear
•    Feeling worthless
•    Bizarre behaviour and ideas
•    Thoughts of suicide

It is perfectly normal for us to feel happy and sad at times, but a persistent low mood that lasts for several weeks or more is not normal. When someone is depressed, the symptoms of depression are severe enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to carry out their normal daily routines.

It can be difficult to diagnose depression in the elderly. Many older people will attribute their symptoms to advancing age and not to an underlying depression or mental health problem.

Older people are also less likely to complain of low moods but more about physical aches and pains which can also be attributed to age but which may also be the result of depression.

Older people are more likely to suffer from anxiety and fear and again this is often put down to natural changes that come with old age. Similarly, increased forgetfulness and confusion are often thought to be a part of growing old but these symptoms can also occur as a result of depression.

It’s important to detect, diagnose and treat depression in the elderly. Depression doesn’t just go away on its own and untreated depression in an older person leads to a great deal of unnecessary suffering and misery. Indeed, suicide rates are higher in the older population than in any other age group.

Signs to look out for are persistent sadness that doesn’t go away even with joyful events. People suffering from depression lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy, this is the same for people in the latter years of life.

The older person may withdraw and spend more time sitting in silence, staring into space, and show little or no interest in social activities or friends and family. They may feel guilty and worthless.

Although it may be considered quite natural to talk about death when getting old, persistently mentioning that they wish they were dead, showing pessimism about the future or talking about suicide are definite warning signs that all is not well and you should seek professional help immediately.

Learn how I beat Depression

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