Depression in old age

Depression in old age is very common. We can say that in people over 55 years old, this is the most common ailment. According to the World Health Organization, depressive symptoms occur in 40 – 45 % of elderly patients who see a doctor in connection with various diseases.    

The main reason for the development of a depressive disorder at this age is the situation of one’s own aging – increasing physical weakness, difficulties in self-care, difficulties in communication due to a pronounced weakening of vision and hearing, loneliness. In addition, old age is rich in various losses, for example, grief over the death of a loved one, possible illness of a spouse, separation from children, loss of work and loss of social status. 

Depression usually develops slowly. Oppression, unfounded or exaggerated fears for their health, the state of loved ones, material well-being gradually grows. Elderly people are immersed in thoughts about the neglected past, the real insolvency and uselessness. They are absorbed in the inner workings of their bodies, convinced that they have a serious illness. Everything that happens in the outside world seems insignificant and uninteresting. Attempts to support, calm down seem to such a person insincere, stupid, empty and often backfire. To the oldest person, his mood may seem normal and quite natural. The offer of psychological help or taking antidepressants by these people is categorically rejected. Relatives are surprised when they are told that such a painful condition can be regarded as a depressive disorder.

Depression in old age is characterized by a combination of anxiety and melancholy. Experiences are full of vague gloomy forebodings, the expectation of all kinds of misfortunes. They are especially intensified in the evening and at night. Patients sob, wail, moan, look around in confusion, wander stupidly or rush about the room. Anxious and melancholy state is combined with delayed expressionless speech, lethargy, inactivity.  

An elderly person is confident in the hopelessness of his position, it seems to him that a painful condition will last forever, life has never been and will never be different (nothing pleases does not give pleasure). A typical complaint is the excruciating sense of emptiness of today. Patients spend most of the day in bed, are not interested in what is happening around, and neglect the rules of personal hygiene. Often such patients say: I torture my relatives, they will be better off without me.

In these cases, the risk of suicide is especially high , associated with ideas of self-blame, feelings of hopelessness, hopelessness and loneliness. Most often, suicidal thoughts are observed in the elderly when depression is combined with severe chronic bodily illness. 

With depression, sleep is always disturbed, interrupted night sleep and early awakening with poor health in the morning prevail. Contrary to popular myth, old people need to sleep as much as they did at a younger age, if not more.

Often, with late depression, complaints of poor memory, disorientation, and difficulty concentrating come to the fore. However, these disorders are not a sign of dementia and are reversible. Timely diagnosis and adequate treatment can cope with late depression. In addition to compulsory treatment with antidepressants, patients need psychotherapeutic help. In the course of treatment, the desire to live, to be useful, to help your loved ones in some way, to receive joy from life gradually returns.  

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