According to Mental Health America, over two million seniors (aged 65 and over) suffer from depression. There are various potential causes for this condition, including isolation, a frustrating decline of mobility, and the loss of loved ones. However, it’s important to note that this is not just a normal part of growing old.
By becoming aware of the warning signs, making lifestyle changes, seeking professional input, or even temporarily exploring medicinal options, you do not have to accept depression as your (or anyone’s) reality. This can be addressed. Read the following 10 items to better understand what to look out for.
1. Frequently Irritable
Considering the physical aches of aging and the excess of free retirement time, it’s easy to see why people accept a correlation between growing old and grumpiness. However, it is not always so simple. Certainly, everyone gets irritable once in a while, but if there’s a sudden shift in personality (such as a lasting anger or hostility), this may be an indication of a deeper upset.
2. Social Withdrawal
If you or a loved one used to find much joy in conversing with friends, but now would rather stay at home in solitude, then this is worth investigating. Social isolation has been undeniably linked to a shorter lifespan, hence why a perpetual refusal to attend gatherings could be more critical than most people understand.
3. Changes in Appetite
Depression can manifest its ugly head in various forms when it comes to food consumption. Some sufferers will increase their intake by means of comfort eating, while others will no longer enjoy the idea of food whatsoever. Regardless, monitoring weight losses or gains and keeping a record of this is the easiest way to see if outside help may be required.
4. Changes in Sleep Patterns
If unusual sleeping patterns are becoming more frequent, depression may be a fundamental explanation. The details of these changes could be anything, from waking up too early, waking up much later, the inability to fall asleep, insomnia, or snoozing throughout the day. There are many studies which connect sleep disorders to depression, so have a conversation and be open to any options.
5. Loss of Energy
People who suffer from depression are forever physically and mentally exhausted, as the simplest of tasks become tiresome chores. This can result in a dangerous cycle, one where the less activity performed, the less serotonin the brain will produce, creating an endless loop of misery. Start by looking at the diet, loading up on fruits, vegetables, fibers, proteins, and ample hydration.
6. Loss of Interest
Known as anhedonia, this is when depression zaps the motivation out from all previous interests, including appearance, work, hobbies, or sex. Strong indications of this reaction is a decline in personal hygiene or the cleanliness of the home.
7. Mental Signs
The dark cloud of despair is infamous for hindering thought processes, by disrupting concentration, memory, and decision making. Other disturbances to watch out for would be confusion and persistent anxiety. These symptoms can also be red flags for dementia, hence why a vigilant eye is imperative in this regard.
8. Physical Signs
A certain amount of physical ailments are to be expected as one ages, as it’s just a part of getting old. However, if specific pains seem to flare up without cause and don’t respond to treatment, then they may have mental roots. These are often experienced as joint pain, back pain, or headaches which continue for months.
9. Lasting Grief
The loss of a loved one is naturally followed by a mourning period. This is an expected part of the process and is nothing to be concerned about. However, if a ceaseless anguish hasn’t shown any signs of improvement after a year or so, then this may have developed into a serious case of depression and will need to be treated as such.
10. Gloomy Topics of Conversation
If every conversational exchange ultimately leads into themes of death, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, etc, then there is probably an underlying tone here which is crying out for help. Pay attention and be candid, querying about thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide.