More than 6 million Americans aged 65 years or older are affected by depression, but as few as 10% receive treatment. This may be because depression in older adults can confuse the effects of illnesses and the medicines used to treat them. Depression in seniors can severely limit the ability to rehabilitate from illness. Most often associated with an increased risk of cardiac diseases, depression increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Even if mild, depression should be evaluated and treated. Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is a common but serious mood disorder that needs treatment.
Elderly individuals with depression may not feel “sad” at all. It may seem that sadness and depression go together, but many seniors with depression claim not to be sad. They may complain of not feeling motivated or having a lack of energy or may suffer from physical problems, all of which may represent symptoms of depression. Keep on reading to learn more about recognizing depression in seniors with Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of Depression in Seniors
Insomnia is probably one of the most common symptoms of depression, and it is also a risk factor for depression onset and recurrence. Other sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness, are also signs of depression that you should be aware of.
Other symptoms of depression in seniors include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Fixation on death or thoughts of suicide
- Unexplained or increased aches and pains
- Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Slowed movement or speech
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Skipping meals or forgetting to take medication
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness, or self-loathing
- Memory issues
Medications to Avoid
It’s essential to understand some medical problems can cause depression in older adults either directly or as a psychological reaction to the illness. Any chronic medical condition, mainly if it is painful, disabling, or life-threatening, can lead to depression or make the symptoms of depression worse. These medical conditions include Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders, vitamin B12 deficiency, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. Symptoms of depression can also occur as a side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs.
Some medications that can cause or worsen depression include:
- Blood pressure medicine
- High-cholesterol drugs
- Sleeping pills
- Ulcer medication
- Heart drugs containing reserpine
- Medications for Parkinson’s disease
- Arthritis drugs
If you’re worried that your loved one may be experiencing depression, please contact a health professional. By recognizing depression in seniors with Alzheimer’s, you will get them the help they need before it becomes severe.