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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Depression in Older Adults
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Depression is an illness that causes you to feel sad, lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy, withdraw from others, and have little energy. It's different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. Depression can also cause people to feel hopeless about the future and to even think about suicide.
It is not a character flaw, and it does not mean that you are a bad or weak person.
Depression is very common. It affects men and women of all ages.
If you think you may be depressed, tell your doctor. Treatment can help you enjoy life again.
Both older and younger adults go through the same major life changes or challenges that may trigger depression. These include medical problems, life events, and having a family history of depression.
But some events are more common in older adults. This includes things like losing a spouse, living with a long-term health problem, or leaving a home you've lived in for years. And like others who experience a life change, older adults may feel sad and may grieve and recover, or they may develop depression.
Some older adults are more likely to be depressed than other older adults. Those who are more likely include:
Common symptoms of depression, such as sadness and loss of interest, occur in older adults just as they do in other adults. But older adults also may feel confused or forgetful and stop seeing friends and doing things. They may also have a hard time sleeping and may not feel like eating.
If your doctor thinks you are depressed, he or she will ask you questions about your health and feelings. Your doctor also may:
But depression often is missed in older adults. This may be because:
As in younger adults, depression in older adults is treated with medicine, counseling, therapy, or a combination of these. Treatment usually works. Treatment for depression also may help other medical problems that older adults have. And older adults may benefit from early, continuing, and long-term treatment.
Older adults may have special concerns when using medicine.
Many older adults don't take all the medicines they need for depression. A caregiver or family member may need to help the older adult remember to take the medicines.
You can do many things to help yourself when you feel depressed or are waiting for your treatment to work. These things also help prevent depression from coming back.
Taking good care of yourself is important as you recover from depression. If your doctor prescribed medicines, take them exactly as they are prescribed. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, including counseling. And call your doctor if you are having problems.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineLisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry
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