Depression -Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2015, Geriatric depression is the most prevalent form of mental illness in older adults. Geriatric depression is a collection of various depressive disorders, and it is the most common cause of disability in older adults.  Geriatric depression can often lead to severe consequences such as impaired cognition, chronically persistent illness, and disability.

Clinical Symptoms of Depression

Depression is represented by the symptoms of a loss of pleasure or interest, low appetite, inconsistent sleep patterns, guilty feelings, low concentration levels, decreased self-esteem, fatigue, and sadness. All of these factors can compromise the quality of life for people suffering from depression.

  • Depression linked to disabilities. Depression often occurs in older patients that suffer from other health ailments including physical disabilities.  Physical limitations due to aging or other factors may bring on a negative mindset pattern, hopelessness, fatigue or sadness.  Additionally older adults suffering from depression may be misdiagnosed or lack proper therapy since a number of their symptoms  may mimic ordinary age-related troubles.
  • Depression affects physical health. Depression may have a  severe impact on the physical and psychological health of an individual. In addition to unwanted weight gain, depression has been shown to affect other areas of the body including joint or muscle pain, headaches, and back pain.  In addition, depressed individuals are more prone to reduced activity levels, increasing their risk for chronic disease such as heart failure or coronary artery disease. 
  • Depression promotes inflammatory responses. Inflammation in the body may increase due to depression, leading to various clinical complications such as arteriosclerosis, change in immune response, compromised endocrine function, and neurological dysfunction.  
  • Environmental factors matter.  For individuals that are depressed, the social support including caregiving plays a large part in making positive changes toward a more stable mental state.  Isolation may lead to increased sadness, distress and sorrow. Furthermore,  insufficient economic resources act as contributing and aggravating factors of depression. 

Some goals for treating depression typically include minimizing the symptoms through anti-depressant drug therapy, preventing relapse through counseling or psychotherapy or a combination of the two.  Non-medical treatment may also be used, including increased exercise, goal setting, challenging your own negative thoughts and trying something new. 

It is important to have a great social network which should include someone who is a patient and active listener.  Join groups that share the same interests (i.e. walking groups) and try be open to making new friends.  It may take a little work to have fun again, but keep planning things you used to enjoy doing and make yourself do them.  Eventually they will be fun again.

The most critical thing about depression is its association with suicidal and negative thoughts. Research studies have reported that the rate of suicide is highest in middle-age white men, and in 2017, men died by suicide 3.54x more often than women and accounted for 69% of all suicide deaths.  However, no one is exempt; get help if you need it or help someone you love. 

Thanks for reading!

Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness. Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions.  Visit  www.milehighfitness.com or email inquiries@milehighfitness.com

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