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Depression and Aging: Warning Signs

Aging isn’t the most fun thing in the world and, if a person is not careful, aging can really get to someone. In fact, seniors have some of the highest depression rates of any age group. They have often suffered the loss of one or more loved ones and may be facing chronic illness as well. Depression is a major challenge of aging. Anyone caring for (or caring about) a loved one should be aware of the warning signs of depression.

 Warning Signs of Depression

Here are some warning signs of depression from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging:

  • Feeling “empty,” sad and/or anxious
  • Lack of energy
  • No interest of pleasure from daily activities, including sex
  • Trouble sleeping (both not enough sleep and too much sleep)
  • Changes in eating patterns (both more and less food)
  • Strange aches and pains that seem untreatable
  • Excessive crying
  • Trouble focusing, remembering or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Being unusually irritable
  • Suicidal thoughts, a suicide attempt or frequent thoughts about death

The definition of depression that I once heard and makes the most sense to me is “a lack of engagement in life.” For a depressed person, everything seems uninteresting and not worth the trouble — sort of a global lack of enthusiasm for anything. Of course, that is just one type of depression, but that definition helps me personally when I am trying to figure out if someone I know and care about is depressed or not.

What to Do About Depression

Depression is a complicated illness involving physiological and emotional causes all mixed together.

If someone is truly depressed, they should be under the care of a professional who can help find solutions to their medical condition.

There is some debate about whether or not minor, temporary depression can be prevented through lifestyle changes. Some research suggests (but doesn’t prove) that exercise, relaxation techniques and increasing social activity can all help reduce the chances of depression. Sleep is another factor that could reduce depression at times.

More on lifestyle changes and depression:

 

Source:Depression National Institutes on Aging: Age Pages

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