The Link Between Aging and Depression

Depression is a true and treatable medical condition, not a normal part of aging. Depression is not just having “the blues”, or the emotions we feel when grieving the loss of a loved one. It is a true medical condition that can be remedied, like diabetes or hypertension.

Someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness and/or anxiety that last for weeks at a time. He or she may also experience:

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness

Irritability, restlessness

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies

Fatigue and decreased energy

Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Overeating or appetite loss

Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment

Older adults face an increased risk of depression, and are often misdiagnosed. 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.

Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses, such as heart disease or cancer. Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that occur as we age. Therefore, they may not see the depression as something that needs to be treated. Older adults often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with the appropriate treatment.

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