Depression & Older Adults

December 16, 2014
Depression in Older Adults
By Carolyn Bulmash, LCSW 

Most of us have heard of depression and many of us suffer from it ourselves, but did you know that depression in older adults is an increasing, yet often underdiagnosed problem?
While depression can be a chemical imbalance, hormonal changes that effect older men and women can also lead to an increase in depression.  As people age and their bodies change, life may slow down. An active tennis player may no longer be able to play the game she loved or work in the garden.  Arthritis, illness, and pain may rob older adults of life long hobbies.

It is important to note a side effect of some prescription medications may also lead todepression. Many people do not connect shifts in mood to new or changes in medications.  It is imperative to consult with one’s prescribing physician if there are sudden changes in mood or behavior after starting new medications.

As people age, they can often lose their sense of identity.  Who am I now that I’m retired?  What will life be like without my spouse?  It feels strange to live in this new apartment when we owned our home for so long.  What is my role with my adult children?  These questions are normal and sometimes seeking professional support from a therapist can help bring some clarity to these common issues.

While grief is a normal response to these situations, depression is not.  Depression may not always appear in just sadness.  Increased anxiety, isolation, andirritability are other common behaviors associated with depression.

There are many treatments for depression. Use of psychotropic medication, relying on friends and family, and psychotherapy can help.  Depression is highly treatable but typically does not go away on its own.  It is important to seek treatment.

No one needs to suffer depression alone. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Associates in Psychotherapy at (866) 220-8371  to schedule a consultation.