Although clinical depression in the elderly happens quite often, doctors do not consider it the norm. Depression later in life occurs frequently in seniors who are 65 years of age and older. Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of the ones who suffer with this mental health ailment actually receive treatment for their condition. The lack of treatment is due to the fact that the elderly display symptoms of depression that are different from the signs younger adults’ exhibit. Caregivers and doctors sometimes confuse the symptoms the elderly display with other diseases, and as a result, doctors misdiagnose and treat the patients with the wrong medications.
How Is Depression Different In The Elderly?
Depression affects seniors differently than it affects younger people. It is not uncommon for depression in the elderly to occur with other medical conditions and last for a longer period of time.
When seniors are suffering with depression and other mental illnesses, their chances of developing cardiac disease also increase. This mental ailment can also affect a senior’s ability to properly rehabilitate. When depression is present in conjunction with other health conditions such as hypertension the chances for the senior to die from that illness increase. For example, depressed seniors who have a heart attack are more likely to die than not depressed seniors. This is why it is important for family members and caregivers to make sure seniors are diagnosed and treated for depression even if the depression is not considered severe.
How Insomnia and Depression Are Related
One of the most common symptoms of depression in people of all ages is insomnia. However, doctors consider insomnia a risk factor for the recurrence of depression, especially in seniors.
Insomnia is typically treated with medications to help a person sleep such as hypnotic drugs such as Ambien rather than drugs such as benzodiazepines like Xanax. Doctors can prescribe antidepressants to treat both conditions. However, if medication does not resolve the issue, the senior may be referred to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
There are several risk factors that family members and caregivers should be mindful of when caring for an elderly loved one. The risk factors include:
- Being single
- Living alone
- Little to no social interaction
- Chronic pain
Depression in the elderly can be difficult to treat if the senior is unwilling to speak with a professional counselor or take prescribed medications. However, prompt and effective treatment can restore their quality of life.
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