Depression in Older Adults

Depression in older adults 

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Depression affects more than 300 million people globally and the number increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015. According to the latest estimates by the WHO, depression is currently the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

Nearly half of the people living with depression in the world are located in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific region, as shown in the infographic below. This high number reflects the relatively larger populations in these regions.

On April 7th, WHO’s World Health Day aimed at increasing awareness around depression and how it affects people of all ages (from children to older adults). Their year-long campaign, Depression: Let’s Talk, started in 2016 and it’s still ongoing.

What are the signs of depressive disorders?

Depression is a condition that impacts the ability of an individual to function and cope with everyday life.

Depressive disorders include sadness, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, loss of interest or pleasure and feelings of tiredness, poor concentration, and disturbed sleep or appetite.

More than 4% of people are estimated to live with depression in 2015, with a higher prevalence among women (5.1%) than men (3.6).

Depression in the elderly

According to the latest estimates, depression peaks in older adulthood (above 7.5% among females aged 55-74 years, and above 5.5% among males).

Older adults often must face loss, whether it be of physical or mental agility or loss of a loved one.

It is important not to overlook worrying signs or belittle them as a normal part of aging. These include loss of interest in activities that they would normally enjoy, loss of energy, change in appetite, different sleeping patterns, and anxiety.

Depression among older people is often associated with physical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

How to help an older adult with depression

Depression can be treated: talking therapies, antidepressant medication, or a combination of both are the most common treatments for depressive disorders.

In the infographic below, we give an overview of 6 suggestions to help an older adult living with depression.

Older people can feel very isolated at times. Going over their memories, talking about their past experiences and life events can be very helpful.

Take the time to be available for them but let them carry out the tasks they can do by themselves to avoid they feel worthless or incapable.

Depression can be treated. Help them follow their treatment or find the right one.

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