Is Depression a Normal Part of Ageing?

Psychiatric Clinic in Mangalore

Depression in the elderly, which is also called geriatric depression, is not a normal part of ageing. Depression is an illness irrespective of the age group it strikes and the illness can massively affect the quality of life. While it is not inevitable that people will suffer from depression in their later years, they generally do. Recent research found that up to 5% of all geriatric people globally live with major depression while 11.5% of all hospitalized older people and 13.5% of those needing home care live with depression.

While ageing is a normal part of human growth and development, it does bring unique changes and challenges that can significantly contribute to depression. Aches, pains and health problems can limit outdoor activities, which can lead to social isolation, which is one of the possible causes of major depressive disorder. Depression can also sometimes co-occur with a serious disease/illness, such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. 

Moreover, depression can be a side-effect of the medications taken for various illnesses and it is also closely connected with age-related changes like hearing and vision loss as declining sensory functioning and health can lead to withdrawal from activities, which can, in turn, lead to loneliness and isolation. Additionally, the loss of friends and family, sense of purpose and mobility can also push a person towards depression. 

Depression is of great concern among geriatric people as it can lead to premature death, suicidal tendencies or even suicide if left untreated. Thus, it is imperative that older people, just like the people of other age groups, seek immediate medical assistance if they experience any of the below-mentioned signs and symptoms:

  • Helplessness

  • Hopelessness

  • Pains, aches, tiredness and irritability

  • Lack of motivation

  • A sense of worthlessness

  • Memory problems

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Slowed speech and movement

  • Weight loss

  • Neglecting self-care

Just like depression at any other age, depression in the elderly can be easily treated with therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Moreover, helping a geriatric person regain confidence and a sense of importance also goes a long way toward easing depression. It is also important to make them feel independent and help them find their purpose by doing things like:

  • Helping them foster meaningful contact with others

  • Providing them companionship and support

  • Encouraging them to join a club, volunteer or participate in activities, stay physically active and develop a healthy eating habit

Depression is an illness rather than a normal part of ageing and causes significant pain for the person with the illness and their family and friends. However, with timely help, support, and medical assistance, geriatric people can beat the illness and live well in the life ahead of them. 

Visit a psychiatric clinic in Mangalore if you have any symptoms of depression. Manipal hospital has one of the best psychiatrists in Mangalore trained in treating mental disorders and substance use disorders.

 

Dr. Krithishree S S

Consultant - Psychiatry

Manipal Hospital, Mangalore

 

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