Online counselling. Counselling to improve feelings. How to Help Depression in Later Life – Ivana Straska
How to Help Depression in Later Life

How to Help Depression in Later Life


Depression is a normal part of aging. A common belief that can have devastating effects among elderly.

Retirement, the death of loved ones, increased isolation, medical problems and other changes in later life can lead to depression. Depression is long lasting sadness, hopelessness the whole day, day after day, and the mood doesn’t uplift after enjoyable episode. Depression prevents from enjoying life and its effects go far beyond mood. It also impacts energy level, sleep, appetite, and physical health. Depression is not an inevitable part of aging.

Unfortunately, too many depressed seniors and care providers fail to recognize the symptoms of depression. Depression is a complex experience and rarely has one cause. Research shows that it often isn’t necessary to determine an exact cause to end depression. Some medical illnesses have a specific biological or chemical cause, making treatment, like a medication or surgery, more straightforward. Depression is more complicated. It is not just a result of a chemical imbalance, and is not simply cured with medication.

There are certain risk factors that make seniors more vulnerable. Learning what the risk factors are and making changes might help reduce the risk of developing depression. Causes and risk factors that contribute to depression in later life include:

  • Loneliness and lack of social support. A key risk factor for depression is isolation and loneliness. Having relationship problems and loosing social support can also make elderly feel alone and depressed. Elderly loose ability to actively spend spare time that increases their social isolation.

  • Stressful and traumatic life experiences – anything that causes significant life changes can be a stressful life experience especially relocation and sickness that lead to depression.

  • Bereavement and loss of loved ones remarkably contribute to depression.

  • Health problems and chronic pain, reduced mobility and independence due to health issues, acute medical and surgical  conditions also increase development of depression.

  • Finances and financial issues are significant sources of stress and elderly people face to financial changes. It is a very difficult adjustment even if they have pension plans. Some become dependent on financial resources and they feel ashamed about their conditions which adds more to distress.

  • Alcohol and drugs can cause strong depression symptoms on their own. They can also make elderly more vulnerable to depression even if they decide to stop using them – alcohol, drugs, self medication worsen the problem. Elderly are more sensitive to the mood related side effects of prescribed medication.

Depression in older age is associated with a high risk of relapse and mortality is high in elderly people with depression. Don’t neglect emotions and feelings of elderly. They might need your help. Provide them emotional support and guide them to find help. Depression is a serious mood disorder and it is treatable. In general the same treatment for depression in elderly is effective as treatment for depression in younger people. Elderly should have access to efficient treatment. Both psychological treatment and antidepressants are effective in late age depression. Therapy can be flexibly delivered to elderly at different settings that includes their own homes, retirement homes  and primary care clinics. Contact to access services for depression of elderly.

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