Feeling blue or melancholy is common, with many people relating to those emotions. Recognizing the difference between sadness and depression is important, especially in older adults. The National Institute of Mental Health categorizes depression as a serious mood disorder that is accompanied by symptoms that impact how a person thinks, feels and handles their day to day activities like working, eating and sleeping.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 280 million people across the globe deal with depression. It is about 50% more common among women than among men. As October is Depression Awareness Month, it is the ideal time to learn more about depression, including the types, which include:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder is a low mood that lasts for 2 years or more in adults, with episodes of major depressive disorder as well as less severe symptoms.
- Major Depressive Disorder, also called clinical depression, involves a pervasive feeling of a dark mood that impacts daily lives and activities that bring joy.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder generally occurs in the fall and winter when there is less sunlight.
- Psychotic Depression is a form of depression that incorporates delusions and hallucinations when the depression is at its most intense.
- Depressive Disorder Due to a Medical Condition is depression related to an illness or health related concerns.
- Postpartum Depression can occur weeks to months after a woman gives birth and involves intense feelings of sadness, anxiety and fatigue.
Although common in older adults, clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. A medical change or an illness can cause depression. Life changes, like losing a spouse, retirement or moving could stir feelings of sadness. If a person experiences depression in their younger years, they may deal with depression in later years. The roots of depression are found in a number of environmental, genetic, psychological and biochemical elements.
What should you look for if you suspect that you or a loved one may be dealing with depression? Although symptoms can vary by person, there are some universal signs that point to depression. If you notice the presence of any combination of these symptoms each day for a two week span, it may signal clinical depression:
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Feeling guilty or without worth
- A pervasive sense of hopelessness, sadness and pessimism
- Restlessness, irritability and insomnia
- Not finding joy or interest in hobbies or activities
- Appetite changes resulting in weight loss or gain
- Feeling forgetful, difficulties in focusing
- Inability to make decisions
Although therapy and medication can help, there are also lifestyle changes that may make a difference in alleviating day to day symptoms of depression. One is to set goals that you can reach, which helps to bolster confidence and stay motivated. Even small tasks like a daily walk with your dog, having coffee with a friend or calling a loved one can be beneficial. Recognizing the things that trigger depression is another way to manage symptoms. Taking time for self-care is an important part of managing depression, including setting a sleep schedule, eating a healthy diet and dealing with stress by meditation or yoga. Stay connected to loved ones and don’t be shy. Educate your support network about depression so they can help, as well.
Searching for senior care options can be stressful for the whole family. CarePatrol understands the importance of having the right information to make informed decisions about senior communities, including assisted living, independent living, memory care or nursing homes. We’ve been helping seniors and their families reduce their stress for thirty years. We can help you, too. Reach out to your local CarePatrol Senior Advisor today.