Senior Living Care Blog

How Depression Can Affect Seniors

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Jul 11, 2019 11:00:00 AM


Depression is a serious mood disorder that can affect anyone of any age. Depression is more than just feeling sad or upset, is a serious problem that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle day-to-day activities like sleeping, eating, and working.


Depression is a real illness that can impact anyone from teenagers to senior citizens. Not only is depression present in older adults, it is common. It should be noted that despite the prevalence of the disorder, it is not a normal part of aging.


Depression in Older Adults

An older man sitting on the stairs and holding his head in his hand because he is suffering from depression

Again, depression is not a normal part of aging. For older adults who are dealing with depressive related symptoms, it is important to understand that there are treatment plans.


Depression in older adults can be a difficult thing for some to recognize as they may show different types of symptoms compared to younger people.



Some common symptoms and problems associated with depression include tiredness, trouble sleeping, feeling grumpy or irritable. Issues like confusion and problems with attention can sometimes look like Alzheimer’s or dementia-related issues but can sometimes be a sign or caused by depression. It should be noted that older adults are more likely to suffer from certain medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or cancer which can lead to depressive symptoms. Similarly, taking certain medications can cause depressive side effects.


Types of Depression

There are a number of different types of depressive disorders that older adults can suffer from. The most common forms of depression include: major depression, persistent depressive disorder, or seasonal affective disorder.


Major Depression — Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders across the country. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) describes this disorder as a period that lasts two weeks in which a person experiences a depressed mood, loss of interests which can lead to symptoms such as problems sleeping or eating, lack of energy or concentration, and problems with self-worth.


Persistent Depressive Disorder — Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, is a long-term problem that can last for at least two years. This form of depression is characterized by the depressive mood in which a person may experience severe bouts of depression along with periods of less intense symptoms. However, the symptoms must last for at least two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.


Seasonal Affective Disorder — One of the most common forms of depression is seasonal affective disorder. This type of depression is caused by the onset of depression during the winter months. This generally occurs due to the lack of sunlight during these months. For most people, this problem subsides during spring and summer. Those who experience winter depression, normally deal with issues such as social withdrawal, increased sleep, weight gain, and more.


What Triggers Depression in Seniors?

A man sitting at lunch thinking about the different triggers of depression in seniors

Again, depression is a mood disorder that can occur at any age. However, there are certain people who are more at risk of developing depression. In fact, if you are an older adult, risk increases if you are female, have a chronic medical illness, have a disability, have trouble sleeping, or are lonely.


Moreover, there are certain events and problems that can trigger depression in an older adult. For instance, the death of a loved one or dealing with a serious illness are problems that can lead people to feel sad or anxious. However, for many, all it takes is a period of adjustment for their moods and emotions to return to equilibrium. But, some never fully regain emotional balance and the issues can spiral into depression.


Treatment Options

Despite how prevalent depression may be among older adults, there are still ways in which you can treat and help alleviate depressive symptoms. The two main treatment options for those dealing with depression include medication and therapy, or a mix of the two.


Antidepressants are the main prescriptions that are used to treat depression, there are many different forms of medication that can help to improve and control mood and stress. Some patients may need to try different prescription medications before finding the one that works best to improve symptoms and manage side effects. It should be noted that antidepressants normally take about two to four weeks to work.


Along with medication, psychotherapy, or “talk therapy” is also an option that can be used to help people who are dealing with depression. Some of these forms of therapy are short-term, lasting between 10 and 20 weeks, however, treatment time is nearly entirely dependent upon a patient’s needs.


Cognitive behavioral therapy is one form of talk therapy that can be used to treat depression. During this type of therapy, patients change negative thinking patterns and behaviors that may be making depression worse.


Along with these options, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to help lift your mood if you are experiencing depressive-related problems. For example, getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet can help your body avoid illnesses or disabilities that may bring on depression.


Now What?

While there are treatment options that are available for seniors with depression, individuals may be unable to avoid certain issues like chronic illnesses and disabilities, both of which may cause problems performing day-to-day tasks. If an older adult has issues with daily activities and living requirements, it may be best to look into how a caregiver or an assisted living facility can help improve someone’s situation.


If you are interested in learning more about how an assisted living facility can help, Landmark Senior Living is a great place to start. Landmark can offer your loved one access to medical care, including memory care, while also giving them the opportunity to participate in exciting, socially stimulating activities to keep them happy and spry during their time at Landmark. These activities and social engagement will help them avoid issues related to depression and the symptoms associated with the mood disorder. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark has to offer, you can visit our website and reach out to schedule a complimentary walkthrough of one of our assisted living facilities in Hobbs.


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Topics: Senior Mental Health

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