Health and Wellness

Is It Depression?

By BreakThrough Care Center

Clinical depression in seniors is often missed and goes untreated. As we age, the symptoms of depression are more difficult to discern from medical conditions. Depression can appear as increased fatigue, irritability or forgetfulness. Often times the more medical conditions a person has, the higher the likelihood for symptoms of depression to also be present. Because depression is tricky to recognize in older adults, a thorough evaluation is recommended.

How do you know when you need help? After a period of feeling sad, people tend to adjust and regain their emotional balance. However if it is clinical depression and no help is sought, symptoms could last for weeks, months or years sometimes. Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. If you have several of these and they last for more than 2 weeks, it’s time to see the doctor and treatment team at the BCC.

-An "empty" feeling, ongoing sadness and anxiety

-Tiredness, lack of energy

-Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you normally do everyday, called anhedonia.

-Sleep problems for example: trouble falling asleep, frequent waking during the night, sleeping more than usual

-Eating more or less than usual

-Crying too much or too often

-Aches and pains that don’t go away when treated

-Difficulty focusing, remembering or making decisions

-Feeling guilty, hopeless, worthless or helpless

-Being irritable

-Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempt

Feeling sad or blue over a longer period of time is not a normal part of aging. Talking with your doctor is the first step toward feeling better. Counseling ("talk therapy") , medications, or a combination of both is the recommended treatment for most people and symptoms typically decrease or resolve gradually. Feeling better takes some time but it can happen and you are worth it!

Condensed from National Institute on Aging article, "Depression: Don’t Let the Blues Hang Around". www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/pittsburgh