Health/Essays/Depression in older adults

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Because the word depression is used so commonly in our society, it is important to learn what depression is and what that actually means. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Someone who is depressed has “feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks at a time. He or she may also experience feelings of hopelessness and guilt, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, fatigue and decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, overeating or appetite loss, Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts, Persistent aches or pains, headaches, and cramps.” When a person has depression, signs are seen and symptoms are felt even after healing time and even treatment. While this is a serious matter at any age, older adults are prone to have a heightened danger of developing depression. According to the CDC, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more. Depression is more common in people who already have other illnesses or when their body’s function and mobility start to lessen (“Depression and Suicide Facts” n.d.). Because the human body and mind deteriorate with age, older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated for depression (“Depression and Suicide Facts” n.d.). Healthcare providers could easily mistake an older adult's symptoms of depression as just a person’s natural reaction to illness life changes. Because of this people would not see depression as something to be treated. Older adults could agree the feelings being felt at that time are just part of life (“Depression and Older Adults” n.d.). Some older adults don't understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment and can continue to live a life that has quality and happiness as its foundation. An important aspect of learning about depression is that there are treatments available to combat this illness. Costs for the depression care had a mean cost of $580 per patient (“Depression and Older Adults” n.d.). If this cost could be reduced and eventually be eliminated, that in itself could be seen as a perk to older adults feeling uneasy about treating their depression. A popular treatment method is the home or clinic based depression care management. This involves using a team approach. A trained social worker, nurse, or other practitioner oversees patient education, tracks specific outcomes, and delivers an evidence-based treatment that a primary care provider and psychiatrist would prescribe (“Depression in the Elderly” n.d.). This treatment could be in a clinical setting when an older individual lives in a nursing home or home care could be provided where every treatment option happens within the home environment. Another popular treatment option is cognitive therapy. This form of therapy gives the patient an opportunity to battle against the negative thoughts triggering depression. According to WedMd, patients with depression have continual negative thoughts that feed the depression. These thoughts are known to be automatic, which is a good benchmark of knowing when someone has depression. Cognitive therapy, defined by WebMd, is a treatment plan that helps patients recognize and correct the constant negative thoughts that continually pop into the patient’s head. Studies have shown that cognitive therapy works at least as well as antidepressants in helping people with mild to moderate depression (“Depression in the Elderly” n.d.). This plan does not need medication to be effective which can be seen as a benefit. Older adults already take medication for other problems, patients should recognize there is treatment available and it does not need to come in the form of a pill. Treatment with therapy can shorten the course of depression and can help reduce symptoms seen in depressed patients (“Depression in the Elderly” n.d.). Treatment is such a pivotal part of what depression is and how it can affect someone’s life forever but the harsh reality is that 75% of depressed older adults do not receive appropriate treatment and 80% of nursing home residents fail to receive appropriate treatment. (“CDC Promotes Public Health Approach” n.d.). There is so much that has been learned about depression over the years through multiple studies and scientific breakthroughs but there is so much more out there to be learned and even more people that need help.

Depression in the Elderly: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments. (n.d.). WebMD – Better information. Better health.. Retrieved January 15, 2012, from

NIMH Older Adults: Depression and Suicide Facts (Fact Sheet).(n.d.). NIMH Home. Retrieved January 16, 2012, from

Missouri Department of Mental Health. (2006). Depression and Older Adults. Mental Health – Mental Illness. Retrieved January 15, 2012, from

CDC Data & Statistics. (n.d.). CDC Promotes Public Health Approach To Address Depression among Older Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 14, 2012,