Depression doesn’t discriminate based on age. Many people tend to have a specific “range” in mind when they consider who depression might impact. But, it can affect kids, teens, and even seniors.
As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, we’re seeing more cases of late-life depression.
Unfortunately, this type of depression often presents itself in a variety of ways. Older individuals might not have as many major depressive symptoms. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the heavy weight of the condition.
Let’s take a closer look at late-life depression, some of the common symptoms, and what you can do if you or someone you care about is struggling with it.
What Causes Late-Life Depression?
This condition is one of the most common mental health disorders in the elderly population. Yet, because it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, so many people end up suffering in silence.
There’s no one root cause of late-life depression. Rather, it likely forms due to a variety of life changes. Many seniors struggle with loneliness and isolation, which can be incredibly damaging to their mental well-being.
Others have to deal with health issues, cognitive decline, or significant losses in their lives. That might include losing a loved one or spouse, retiring from a long career, or living alone for the first time in years. Any of those factors can play a role in contributing to mental health decline. The use of certain medications can also contribute to depression, which can be difficult to diagnose or even treat differently if those medications are needed to maintain physical health.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for older individuals to start thinking about their mortality. That can often lead to anxious and depressive thoughts, as well.
What Are the Symptoms?
Again, the symptoms of late-life depression can present themselves in a variety of ways. But, some of the most common include:
- Feeling sad
- Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Fatigue or lack of energy
Older individuals dealing with late-life depression might also struggle with feelings of guilt or shame. They might feel both helpless and hopeless.
This type of depression can also manifest itself through physical symptoms, contributing to aches and pains. Research has also shown that older people with depression are at an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
What Can You Do?
If any of the above symptoms sound familiar and you’re struggling with extreme sadness, the best thing you can do is receive an official diagnosis.
Contact your doctor to ensure the symptoms aren’t caused by a physical condition. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and don’t be afraid to bring up the fact that it might be depression.
Once you’ve ruled out any medical issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
There are so many factors that can come into play when it comes to late-life depression. One of the first things you’re likely to do with a therapist is to determine the root cause of your depression. That’s not always easy and not exactly a “fun” part of the process. But, it’s often a necessary first step toward true healing.
Therapy can empower you to overcome your depression once you have a better understanding of the cause. Along the way, you’ll learn helpful strategies that can help you manage your symptoms.
Late-life depression is very real, and can negatively impact your quality of life. As you go through your golden years, you don’t need to be tethered to that kind of sadness. Feel free to contact me today to set up an appointment for depression therapy.