Depression is a common concern for seniors. Unfortunately, very few who suffer from depression seek treatment. Depression is often looked at differently in seniors, WebMD noted
. Their moods may be blamed on the illnesses they endure as they age or the medications they are taking.
Here are six top causes of depression in seniors:
1. Physical Changes
Significant changes as people grow older can increase causes and risk factors for depression in seniors, HelpGuide.org pointed out
. Health problems may increase from age. There may be recurring illnesses or aggravation from disabilities. The body can also be damaged from surgery or disease in the elderly. Some seniors may have to deal with chronic or severe pain.
Many seniors wind up living alone, and the isolation might contribute to depression, HelpGuide.org said. The risk increases when seniors don’t get involved in social circles, which becomes harder as some of their friends die or move to different locations. Illness, decreased mobility and loss of driving abilities lead to few social contacts.
Retirement or isolation could cause feelings of purposelessness. Many people lose their sense of identity when they no longer work or feel they aren’t needed. Physical disabilities in age can reduce a sense of purpose.
Bereavement from the loss of friends, relatives, spouses, or even a pet, can intensify negative thoughts and create depression in seniors, HelpGuide.org said. Anxiety from financial difficulties or health issues increases fears. Fears of death and dying may also occur.
4. Gender and Family History
Along with stressful events in life, senior women are more at risk for depression than male seniors, WebMD reported
. Being single, divorced or widowed are other factors. These risk factors increase when there is a family history of depressive disorders.
Solutions to health problems can also cause depression. For example, some medications may cause depressive moods. Seniors may be taking more medications than they have in the past to treat a variety of illnesses or complications. The combination of medicines can contribute to depression.
Brain chemistry plays a role in depression for seniors. Many older adults suffer from restricted blood flow through the blood vessels which can affect organs throughout the body, including the brain, according to the National Institute of Mental Health
This is called vascular depression, which can also lead to heart disease and stroke. Diabetes, cancer and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s can contribute to depression. Depression can be a side effect of medications seniors need to take.
A doctor can help set seniors on the right track to getting mental health assistance. A mental health professional can diagnose depression and recommend the proper treatment.
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