Aging Parents and Depression
The number of seniors who experience depression ranges in the millions. The issue of aging parents and depression goes hand-in-hand for many and often goes undiagnosed. A cranky senior may be one suffering from the effects of depression. The signs of irritation, loss of appetite, worrying about dying, and sadness often go unnoticed or are misdiagnosed for seniors.
This means that millions of seniors may be suffering from a treatable condition that gets overlooked, causing years of suffering under its symptoms. Depression is not a normal aspect of aging, so it is best to look for the signs when your parents are aging.
Why Depression Occurs
For seniors, it is not the aging itself that causes clinical depression. While most seniors may not look forward to the prospect of the end of their lives, that is something which is dealt with and does not involve depression.
As people age, the amount of serotonin present in the brain diminishes which is how dementia and depression are often connected. In addition, seniors suffering from chronic pain and other adverse medical conditions such as heart disease or cancer often contribute to creating depression. Plus, some seniors may be genetically inclined to be depressed.
Symptoms of Depression
There are warning signs that depression may be present in an aging parent or senior. You will need to look for the sign and act when appropriate.
Anxious: Never quite calming down and becoming relaxed, especially when combined with insomnia, withdrawing socially, and fatigue is a warning sign.
Changes in Appetite: Skipping meals and not feeling hungry when they should or eating too much and gaining excessive weight.
Fatigue: The feeling of being tired all day, even though they had a good night sleep is another warning sign.
Irritable: This is fairly common with seniors from time to time, but if the condition persists and is out of character, then they may have depression.
Withdrawal: Pulling away from friends and family, wishing to be alone for extended periods is often a sign of depression.
Other signs include pain that is worsening, a preoccupation with death, and insomnia all may indicate depression is present.
What to Do
If your parent or loved one is showing signs of depression, there are things you can do to help. Do not wait for the problem to go away. Instead, you will need to take the appropriate action in alerting family and their physician that you suspect they have depression. A doctor or experienced caregiver are trained to see signs of depression, so they can confirm your suspicions.
Once alerted they physician can diagnose and prescribe the right treatment that will help seniors address issues of their depression. You may participate as well in terms of being more active in their lives and following what the doctor suggests would be helpful.
Aging parents and depression need not go together. In fact, most seniors are relatively healthy and happy, looking forward to the rest of their lives. This is why it is important to see and understand the signs of depression so treatment can be given.