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Depression in the Elderly - How to Detect it in Time!

Dr. Ashima Ranjan Tiwari 91% (363 ratings)
MBBS, DPM, DNB (PSYCHIATRY)
Psychiatrist, Noida  •  7 years experience
Depression in the Elderly - How to Detect it in Time!

Depression is a serious yet common mental health problem that can affect all age groups ranging from young children to the elderly. It is found to be more common among women when compared to men. It can take a toll over one’s peace of mind, physical health, interpersonal relationships as well as job performance (or academic performance). What is deceiving is, the person can also be functioning well, in which case, it can go unnoticed, leading to grave consequences. The good news is that depression is treatable and individuals are able to function much better with treatment. Affected individuals feel sad most of the time. He/she loses the ability to enjoy/be happy. 

As a result of this, the daily activities that he/she participates in do not seem to appeal to him/her anymore. This is especially true in the case of socialising. The affected person will just seem to drop out of social circles. This can be said to be ironic because it is times like these when the individual with depression is in need of friends the most! 

The individual seems to have an overriding belief that the status quo will not be altered by anything and he or she will be stuck in a rut in perpetuity. In other words, depressed people experience a perennial feeling of helplessness. Negative thoughts can also drive one to commit suicide. 

A lot of people who have depression tend to experience a loss of energy. As a matter of fact, this is quite the case with men who enter a phase of depression, as the symptoms which are displayed by them can contrast sharply to those displayed by women. One of the reasons for men tending to report a higher chance of this than women is the fact that they are less likely to express feelings of self loathing. Rather, they usually talk about sleep problems and a loss of interest in things that once they might have found to be interesting or even captivating. They also gradually get quite irritable.

When it comes to women, guilt is quite likely to be felt. They may also sleep a lot longer than what is considered to be normal. Eating habits are a better indication of the presence or absence of depression than most people would realise. Overeating is one of the prime signs, especially in the case of women who are depressed. This leads to them putting on weight, as the rise in the intake of food is compounded by a drop in the amount of healthy physical activity. On the other hand, many may also experience loss of appetite, which over a period of time can even lead to weight loss. Some women who are depressed also complain of aches and pains in the body.

A few individuals who are depressed also complain of weird experiences, like being able to hear voices calling out to them, abusing them in dirty language, asking them to hurt themselves (hallucinations). Some may be found to be extremely suspicious about people around them. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Psychiatrist.

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