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Mental & Emotional Health
Senior Health

Aging and Depression: Are You at Risk?

 

The link between aging and depression is no secret nowadays. The problem can affect virtually any person, for any number of reasons and in even more ways. That why when it comes to mental health and aging well, it’s critical to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments for depression so that you can develop a treatment plan that will actually work.

Common Causes of Depression

• Life-changing health conditions, serious illness:This could include a diagnosis of cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease. Diseases that trigger chronic pain can also increase your risk of depression. Unfortunately, treatments for these diseases can cause depression, too; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.5% of older adults will experience depression as a result of hospitalization or home care. Having a loved one suddenly diagnosed with a serious illness can also lead to symptoms of depression as a ripple effect.

• Hormonal imbalances, changes in sex drive:Menopause and andropause are common causes of midlife depression, and a drop in sex drive can make you feel lethargic or even lonely, which can easily lead to depression.

• Stress and anxiety:This is one of the more common causes of depression for middle-aged adults—also known as the “sandwich generation”—because they often feel overwhelmed with managing their responsibilities at work while also caring for their marriage, children, and aging parents.

• Death, grief, or the “empty nest:”The loss of a loved one, either through death or even their moving away, can trigger a grieving process and lead to feelings of loneliness, which can progress into depression.

• Genetics, mental illness: Your family’s mental health tends to have an impact on yours due to chemical imbalances passed on through genetics. If you or any of your family members have been diagnosed with a mental illness, ensure that you are familiar with the symptoms of depression, as you are more likely to develop it on a recurring basis.

Symptoms of Depression

If you experience several of these symptoms for an extended period of time, seek medical attention, as you may be suffering from depression:

• Loss of interest in the things you used to enjoy

• Withdrawal from social life

• Lack of concentration, loss of memory

• Constant fatigue, insomnia, interrupted sleep, or oversleeping

• Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or guilt

• Loneliness, sadness, feelings of “emptiness”

• Increased irritability

• Dramatic change in appetite

• Thoughts of suicide or self-mutilation

Treatments for Depression

When it comes to creating your perfect anti-aging formula for fighting depression, it’s best to consult with your doctor first and discuss a three-pronged approach that includes medical, physical, and mental treatments.

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