Elderly depression can be complicated and it becomes even more complex when other factors are involved, such as chemical or alcohol dependence, but let’s look at the major primary causes here.
Elderly depression may be caused by disability or illness
When illnesses or disabilities affect an older person’s life, he or she may succumb to elderly depression. These maladies can cause the older person to have to slow down, move away from family and friends or make other changes in circumstances that could cause depression.
GENDER: Biological occurrences such as hormonal changes make an older woman more at risk for depression than men, and many women may also have the added burden of being the caregiver for a spouse in later life.
SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS: Illnesses that are more likely to strike the elderly, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s Disease can also trigger clinical depression, a more severe form of depression. Elderly depression can cause health care costs to soar among the elderly. It’s estimated that depression found in people of all ages costs billions of dollars each year.
MEDICINE SIDE EFFECTS: The elderly may also take certain medications that are known to cause depression. Be sure to check with your health care provider if you suspect this might be the cause of depression feelings and thoughts. The doctor may be able to change the medication and quickly correct the problem.
DISABILITY: Disabilities might cause an elderly person to think less of him or herself. Amputations caused by problems associated with diabetes, cancer or a heart attack that may have changed the person’s perception of himself and could contribute to feelings of depression. Chronic pain might also cause depression. Antidepressants can help ward off depression in these situations, though they often produce their own set of adverse effects.
Depression in the elderly is a serious matter
Some people simply are made up of factors that contribute to depression, and that’s also true of the elderly. If their psychological, environmental or genetic makeup is imbalanced, their bodies may no longer be able to produce the brain chemicals involved in fighting depressive thoughts. There may be no good identifiable reason that an elderly person is depressed, but if depression symptoms occur, a good physical and mental evaluation is in order.
Depression in later life can take a devastating toll on an older person and could increase risk of death. It can produce side effects that are so troubling that they trigger thoughts of suicide.
Nursing homes have noted that elderly patients with physical illnesses or disabilities are much more likely to pass away earlier than those with a healthy outlook on life. In fact, suicide among the elderly account for almost 20% of all deaths by suicide.
The cause of elderly depression can be misunderstood
It’s easy to miss symptoms of elderly depression because both medical staff and family or friends might regard the disability or illness as being the cause of withdrawal or sadness. Symptoms of depression in the elderly can easily be addressed with effective treatments, if diagnosed, so if you suspect someone of having elderly depression, suggest seeing a health care provider for an evaluation.
And here is part 4 of this series: How Is Clinical Depression Different To Sadness?
DEPRESSION: Need to learn more? Discussing causes, symptoms & treatments for the 6 types. Tips for managing. Natural treatments, too!
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