All Posts tagged depression

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

In honor of Mental Health Month, now is the perfect time to shed some light on depression in older adults. Many people assume that sadness or depression is just a normal part of growing older. However, this is not the case. Depression is a medical problem that can be treated with a combination of medication and therapy. It’s important to remember, you don’t have to be sad. There is a way to stop it.

Depression in older adults is often brought about by the numerous changes in life that occur as people age. Retirement, death of loved ones, increased isolation, and medical problems can all contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness. The warning signs of depression include sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, social withdrawal, weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances, loss of self-worth, or suicidal thoughts. Seniors may also turn to alcohol or drugs to try and ease their pain, but this solution can actually make things worse.

If elderly depression is not treated in time it can significantly impair an older adult’s ability to enjoy life. Overall health may begin to decline and ultimately lead to an early death. Additionally, depression has been linked to higher rates of mental decline in seniors. But the good news is… it’s all treatable! Take our quiz now to learn more about elderly depression and how you can save the senior in your life from suffering.

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

Depression and anxiety often go overlooked in the elderly, leading to poor life quality. Take this quiz to learn more about how to spot depression in seniors.

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Elderly Depression During the Holidays

Elderly Depression During the Holidays

While the holidays are typically a time of joy, for some seniors, they become a time of dread. Elderly depression during the holidays is a real and palpable disorder that stems from a number of causes. Often, the holidays remind seniors of the good times they had earlier in life… and how they will never experience these good times ever again. Family members have been lost throughout the years, and growing disabilities make seniors feel alone and useless. Financial burdens, loss of independence, and growing health problems can compound the sadness.

Depression does not have to be a part of daily life for seniors. While times of sadness are ordinary (and are experienced by everyone, regardless of age), when the feelings persist for a month or more, there is a medical issue. Other warning signs of depression include:

  • changes in appetite or weight
  • crying often
  • changes in sleeping schedule
  • trouble concentrating
  • irritability and agitation
  • lack of personal care and hygiene
  • feeling restless or fidgety
  • thoughts of suicide

It is important to watch for and recognize these symptoms of elderly depression before they become too severe. Depression may not be entirely preventable, but it can be treated. Often, especially if a senior only feels sad during the winter months, medication is not required to alleviate symptoms. There are several ways to try and lighten a senior’s mood and brighten their holiday spirit.

  1. Make them holiday cookies. Though it’s a simple gesture, it will really show the elder individual that you care about them and dedicated your time to baking them a treat. Better yet, involve the senior in the baking process! They will feel useful and accomplished when the cookies are finished.
  2. Help them reconcile with estranged friends or family members. If a senior person has been feuding with a family member, help them to patch up relations between them. Holding a grudge is not good for either party, but for seniors who don’t have many companions, it can be even worse. The holidays are about forgiving and forgetting, especially when it comes to familial resentments.
  3. Be a good listener. Seniors don’t have many people to talk to, so they need you to be there for them. Encourage discussions about how they are feeling and be supportive throughout. Remember to put yourself in their shoes to understand how they feel.
  4. Help them volunteer at church, hospital, or homeless shelter. Nothing feels better than giving back to the community – and this might be an area that your senior has been lacking in. Find an activity that fits the physical limitations of the senior and help them accomplish their goal of helping others.
  5. Assist them in making holiday gifts. Homemade gifts are always the most touching, and it will make your senior feel like they have a purpose again. Distribute the gifts among family members or give them to the less fortunate.
  6. Decorate for them. Many seniors may be too depressed to decorate their living space. However, the twinkle of Christmas lights and the shine of holiday bulbs goes a long way to brighten spirits. Elders will appreciate how much you care and hopefully find their mood improved.
  7. Throw a holiday party for them. Elders have a diminishing list of friends and family members, so it is important to celebrate everyday for as long as they can. Throw an impromptu party and make them the star! Invite all of their closest companions and have them bring gifts for the special senior.
  8. Advise them to talk with a healthcare provider. If the senior’s feelings of sadness progress and linger even after the holidays are over, encourage them to seek help from a doctor. Depression is nothing to be ashamed about, and only a doctor can decide if a stronger treatment is required.
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Are You Depressed?

Are You Depressed?

Depression is a serious disease which affects millions worldwide. Many people are afraid to admit to being depressed for fear of the social stigma attached to the disease. Unfortunately, this means that many people suffer in silence until things get to be too hard to endure.

It’s important to monitor your feelings to make sure you are not depressed. There are several warning symptoms that can help determine if you are depressed. Depression is a subjective disease, meaning that there is not a simple test that can diagnose you. Being diagnosed with depression all depends on how you feel about yourself and your life.

While it doesn’t substitute a trip to the doctor, try taking our quiz to see if you have the warning symptoms of depression. If you find that you are depressed, always remember that your friends and family are there to help. You are not alone.

Are you depressed?

Over 350 million people globally suffer from depression! It’s the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Take this test to see if you are at risk for being depressed.

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Protecting Yourself from Depression

Protecting Yourself from Depression

With the recent death of Robin Williams by suicide, many are finally realizing the dangers of mental illness. A disease like depression is not simply something to brush off or get over. It is a complex and dangerous chemical imbalance in the brain which cannot simply be cured by a magic pill. People do not choose to have depression, and even people who seem to have a perfect and happy life can be suffering on the inside.

To put it lightly, many of our patients do not have a perfect or happy life. Many of them are sick and lonely. Depression in elderly people is common, as growing older leads to isolation and regrets from many years ago. Yet a mere 10 percent of those suffering from this mental disorder actually receive treatment. This is why it is so essential to be vigilant about watching for the symptoms of depression. It is only through support from loved ones and help from a medical professional that people suffering from depression can feel better. If you recognize that someone around you appears to be suffering from depression, encourage them to seek treatment from a doctor and let them know that you are there to support them.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

You may notice some changes in people with depression. These include:

  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • Talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about

If you fear that someone is at risk for committing suicide, do not wait for them to see a doctor. Immediately contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433 for more assistance.

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Depression Could Lead to Dementia

Depression Could Lead to Dementia

Next time you’re feeling sad, try to cheer up. Otherwise, you might be increasing your risk of cognitive decline.

A new study has found that those who suffer from depression are more likely to develop dementia as they age.

A study looked at the mental health of 1,764 participants over an average of 7.8 years. The 52.2% of participants that had developed mild cognitive impairment were more likely to show signs of depression.

“Studies have shown that people with symptoms of depression are more likely to develop dementia, but we haven’t known how the relationship works,” said Dr. Robert Wilson, a neuropsychiatrist. “Is the depression a consequence of the dementia? Do both problems develop from the same underlying problems in the brain? Or does the relationship of depression with dementia have nothing to do with dementia-related pathology?”

Scientists do know that depression symptoms began to decrease once dementia was diagnosed in a patient. Wilson attributes this to a decline in brain function, and suggests that prescribing antidepressants may help enhance mental function among those suffering from dementia.

 

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Five Ways to Tackle SAD

Feeling sad in the winter is no big deal. Everyone gets the blues when it starts getting dark at 4 PM and it’s so cold that you can’t step outside your door without five layers of clothing. But feeling SAD in the winter? Now that’s a whole different story.

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Six percent of the US population suffers from SAD each winter, so it is important to remember that you are not alone in your struggle.

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder, which is a form of depression. It’s much more than just getting bummed out about it snowing during your afternoon commute on the Parkway. It is a serious mood change that stems from the lack of natural sunlight. And as we all know, Pittsburgh weather is infamous for a lack of sunlight. Symptoms can include hopelessness, appetite and sleep changes, less energy, and loss of motivation.

The long wait for spring and summer to arrive can cause SAD to develop into long-term depression. Therefore, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as you feel the symptoms creep into your life. Luckily, there are several ways to fight back, most of which have a high success rate in patients.

1. Light therapy
Light therapy boxes which mimic outdoor light are the most common treatment for SAD. Typically, it is best to begin using them in the fall or early winter before the onset of symptoms. Doctors recommend to use a light for 30 minutes each morning to stimulate your body. Symptoms should begin to improve in three to four weeks.

2. Antidepressants
While you do have to see your doctor for this step, it can be one of the most effective treatments. People usually start to feel better within one to three weeks of taking medicine. Antidepressants are usually combined with light therapy for the most effective results.

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Pittsburgh suffers from heavy cloud coverage approximately 56% of the time, so it’s understandable that you may be suffering from a lack of sunlight.

3. Eating healthy
As if you didn’t know, but eating better can help you feel better! Be sure to take in a well-balanced diet that is packed with energy giving fruits and vegetables. Avoid cramming in extra carbohydrates like bread or pasta, as these deflate your energy levels. Balance your protein and fiber levels to keep your body running smoothly.

4. Exercise
Physical activity boosts your metabolism, which in turn increases your energy levels. Completing moderate activity for at least two hours a week or vigorous activity for at least one hour a week is the recommended amount. Focus on weight training twice a week as this will make you stronger and able to complete more workouts.

5. Counseling
Sometimes, all you really need is to talk to someone and get your feelings out. Speaking with a friend or a professional therapist who knows and understands the symptoms of SAD can help alleviate depression symptoms. Choose to be around people that are caring and respectful of your situation and who will assist you in managing your outlook.

There’s no need to be sad or SAD. Don’t let the winter blues get you down; try out these doctor-approved treatments today to start noticing a difference in your mood.

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