As we get older, our bodies go through many changes. Our bones become more fragile, muscle mass begins to decline, and you can even shrink in height. All of these are normal effects of aging, however, one problem that many senior citizens face that is not a normal part of aging is depression.
According to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans living over the age of 65. Not only are many older individuals affected by the ailment, it often goes untreated in older individuals as many think the problem is a normal part of aging.
There are many symptoms associated with depression in seniors. While these will differ depending on each specific case, some common symptoms include:
- Memory problems
- Social Withdrawal
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight Loss and more
It should also be noted that depression can be more difficult to recognize in older adults sometimes because there are less obvious symptoms of the problem compared to younger people. Also, other medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more can cause depression symptoms.
There are a number of different types of depression, depending on the type, they can affect how an individual feels and how long they last. Some common types of depression include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Major depressive disorder is the main type that people think of, it is characterized by feelings of sadness and disinterest in most things.
Persistent depressive disorder, as the name suggests, is a type of depression that lasts for a long time, at least two years. The severity of the problem will fluctuate , with episodes of major depressive followed by times of less intense symptoms.
Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression in winter months. During winter time, there is less natural sunlight which can reduce your levels of Vitamin D and influence your mood. This type of seasonal depression generally will end during the spring of summer.
For people experiencing depression, there are a number of things that you can do to improve mood, sleep, and appetite. One of the most obvious options is medication. There are a number antidepressants that can be used to help improve depressive symptoms such as Prozac or Zoloft.
However, there are other options for people suffering from depression. There is a lot of evidence that points to the fact that regular exercise can be an effective way to fight some forms of depression. Exercising can not only help with depression, it can also go a long way to protect the heart and cardiovascular system, improve sleep, fight diabetes, and more.
While depression may be a common problem among older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. It is important to remember this and do your best to fight the symptoms of depression.