Depression is not a normal part of growing older, but it is common in adults who are 65 years of age or older. Retirement, health problems, and the loss of loved ones are things that happen to older adults. Feeling sad at these times is normal. But if these feelings persist and keep you from your usual activities, you should talk to your doctor.
In older adults, it can be hard to tell the difference between depression and illnesses such as dementia. Also, older adults may not talk to their doctors or caregivers about their sad or anxious feelings because they are embarrassed. But depression is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is not a personal weakness. It's a medical illness that can be treated.
In addition to the standard emotional and physical symptoms of depression, older adults who are depressed may also experience:
If you are caring for an older adult, tell your loved one’s doctor about any new symptoms or changes in behavior that concern you or may be due to depression. The doctor may:
Treatment of depression in older adults is often exactly the same as treatment for all other individuals.
Many older adults take prescription medicines to treat other health conditions. If one of these medicines might be causing the depression, the doctor will probably switch that medicine.
If you are caring for an older adult who is depressed, the doctor may also have some advice for you and other family members and caregivers on how to cope. He or she may recommend support groups that can help you.
This content has been supported by Forest Laboratories Inc.
Depression in Older Persons Fact Sheet by National Alliance on Mental Illness ( April 12, 2012, http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=7515)
Depression – elderly by U.S. National Library of Medicine ( April 12, 2012, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001521.htm)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff