Signs of Depression in Seniors

Depression is often misunderstood for having a bad day. We’ve all had moments when we felt a bit down in the dumps. However, when the mood continues for an indeterminate amount of time, it is more than just a bad day – it is depression. Here are signs of depression in older individuals which should be dealt with as soon as possible.

There was a recent study not so long ago that revealed lack of light, especially in the winter months, can cause depression. In fact, studies suggested that light therapy would significantly decrease depression in older adults. However, there are other signs of depression more pronounced and for which you should be aware.

1. Loss of a spouse can leave an older individual feeling lonely, especially if they were totally dependent or have been married for a long time leaving them isolated for the first time in many years.
2. Medications can contribute to depression, especially heart or anti-anxiety drugs.
3. Illness can sink an older individual into a depression in which they feel there is no hope of recovery.
4. Anxiety can lead to depression, especially of the anxiety leads to panic attacks which may render the individual helpless and afraid all the time.
5. Loss of appetite is a sign of depression. The underlying cause should be investigated.
6. Sleep pattern changes, especially if an older individual is sleeping more often, specifically during daytime hours. This may be a clear sign of depression.
7. Continual sadness in which the individual finds nothing to be happy about.
8. Avoiding friends and social situations is a clear sign something is wrong.
9. Lack of self-esteem often leads to depression. Feeling unworthy and/or unloved.
10. A family history of depression is another contributory factor.
11. A tendency to reveal physical discomfort frequently although this may be a simple need for attention.
12. A lack of energy or the inability to carry out the most minimal of tasks.
13. The lack of hygiene or not caring if one is dressed for the day.
14. Discussions of past problems occupying the individual’s mind all the time.
15. The inability to enjoy life.
16. Thoughts of suicide.

Signs of depression in older individuals can be mistaken for many things. However, the bottom line is they can and do become depressed and their can be a myriad of reasons. For those who show signs of dementia, this can be an added strain not only for the older individual’s family, but on the individual as well. Suddenly, they are no longer in control and it frightens them. Depression is the by-product.

Noticing these signs of depression in older individuals is the first step in the intervention process to alleviate their fears, and help them to cope with whatever situation is causing the problem.