Depression due to ageing

  • Jan 17 , 2017

A loss in mental sharpness may not always be due to old age. It can also happen as a result of depression. Elderly depression in India has seemingly arisen as a major challenge for public healthcare. The elderly age group is largely vulnerable because of multiple psychological and medical problems.

Depression tends to impact almost every aspect of everyday life. This includes energy, sleep, appetite, hobbies, work and relationships. As is the case with other cases of depression, many elderly people as well fail to identify the criticality of the situation. Therefore they fail to take the steps that are necessary.

Reasons why depression is neglected

  • You may not understand that your physical complaints could actually be signs of depression
  • You may be afraid to talk about your current feelings or ask for help to come out of your current situation
  • You may think that depression happen simply due to old age
  • Being isolated can also lead to depression, as you have no one to share your feelings, and very few would have noticed you in distress

Clear symptoms of depression in the elderly

Depression is not a complete character flaw or a sign of weakness. It can happen to people at any age, whether young or old. In case of any trouble, it is important to recognise signs of depression before they turn into a dangerous avatar.

Photo Courtesy: Nature World News

Here are some of the obvious symptoms of depression among the elderly:

  • Complete loss of self-worth (feeling like a burden, worthlessness or loathing)
  • Weight loss over time or loss of appetite
  • Lack of interest in any kind of day-to-day activities
  • Not wanting to go out and meet other people
  • Use of drugs and alcohol much higher than usual
  • No motivation or energy for any activity
  • Inability to sleep properly
  • Major memory problems slowed speech
  • Not taking care of oneself (skipping meals, neglecting personal hygiene, forgetting medicines)
  • Depression may not make one feel sad 

Many elderly people have said that depression does not always make them feel sad, even though depression and sadness are said to go hand in hand. Instead of this, the elderly crib about lack of energy, physical problems and low motivation. Physical problems such as arthritic pains and bad headaches are major symptoms of depression among the elderly.

How to get out of depression

  • Stay engaged- It is important to look for ways to sustain efforts needed to beat depression. This can only be achieved by engaging with other positive people. If you are unable to go outside to visit, convince loved ones to come and see you. Remember that digital communication can never replace face-to-face communication. Try to learn a new skill, or take care of a new pet.
  • Eat and sleep well- Dietary habits play a very important role in depression. It is important to focus on complex carbs, protein and healthy fats. Similarly, make sure you sleep for at least 7-9 hours a day. Sleeping just about 3-4 hours a day can very harmful for the depressed elderly.
  • Take medical consultation- Make sure you speak to a mental health doctor about your condition. Explain your problem to him or her and follow proper guidance.