What Does Depression Look like in Older Adults?

The Leaders in TMS Gaithersburg Break Down Everything You Need to Know About Depression in Elderly Populations

Despite common belief, depression is not considered a ‘normal part’ of aging. While common due to a number of life changes that occur during late adulthood, the brain does not naturally make changes that lead to depression and other issues in elderly patients. At the leaders of TMS Gaithersburg, the Psych Associates of Maryland know how to tackle depression in a number of at-risk populations. That’s why we’re here to break down everything you need to know about depression in older adults. From risk factors to treatment, this information will half you gain a better understanding of the need of older populations facing depression.

How Prevalent is Depression in Older Adults?

The Leaders in TMS Gaithersburg Break Down Risk Factors for Depression

older adults depression

It’s easy for young and healthy people to suggest that an older family member may feel depressed. After all older adult adults enter a new stage of life which - much like college students or adults entering parenthood - brings a new set of challenges and stressors to the table.

Many studies show that older people tend to feel more satisfied with their lives than many younger people despite these challenges. Even so, late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. Of these 6 million people, only about 10% end up getting treatment for depression due to the belief that depression late in life is normal and not as urgent.

There are a number of risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression late in life, including:

  • Being female
  • Being single, unmarried, divorced, or widowed
  • Lack of a supportive social network
  • Stressful life events
  • Certain medicines or combination of medicines
  • Damage to body image (from amputation, cancer surgery, or heart attack)
  • Family history of major depressive disorder
  • Fear of death
  • Living alone, social isolation
  • Past suicide attempt(s)
  • Presence of chronic or severe pain
  • Previous history of depression
  • Recent loss of a loved one
  • Substance abuse

All in all, the major life changes that occur in late adulthood can lead to depression. Whether this is losing a spouse or sibling, retiring, or learning that the person has a chronic illness, these types of life changes can be detrimental to mental health.

What Does Depression Look like in Older Adults?

A Breakdown of the Manifestation of Depression by the Leaders in TMS Gaithersburg

older woman doctors depression

Depression is often difficult to spot in older adults, says the deader in TMS Gaithersburg, because the symptoms differ from those experienced by young people. Sadness is not always the main symptom for older adults, but rather, symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and insomnia come to the forefront. Additionally, feelings of confusion and attention issues caused by Alzheimer’s are often confused for depression.

Not only is depression difficult to identify in older adults due to its manifestations, but because older adults are sometimes less inclined to talk about their feelings and struggles than younger people. Not wanted to cause concern for loved ones or exacerbate other health issues keeps many elderly people from expressing their feelings of depression.

However, not talking about it can be notably problematic. Not only can depression inhibit a person’s ability to rehabilitate after surgery or a fall, but depression is associated with an increased risk of death following a heart attack in older adults.

Similarly, older adults are at an increased risk for vascular depression, or depression that is related to a decreased blood flow to the brain (ischemia). This is more common in someone who has no history of depression in their family.

Treating Depression in Older Adults with the Leader in TMS Gaithersburg

Understanding Options for Depression Treatment in the Elderly

elderly depression

Older adults suffering from depression are often unable to get depression help because their loved ones aren’t always sure what to look for. However, it’s important to tackle depression head-on in order to start feeling like yourself. Some options for treating depression with Psych Associates of Maryland - the leaders in TMS Gaithersburg - include:

  • TMS Therapy: If you want to end depression once and for all, consider TMS Maryland. TMS, or Transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves using painless electrical waves to reactivated under activated portions of the brain. After several weeks of treatment, many patients experience remission of all depression symptoms. This is a great choice for older adults who may have a drug interaction with an anti-depressant.
  • Medication: There are a number of medications available for managing depression. Psych Associates of Maryland will help you find the medication that best manages your depression over time.
  • Psychotherapy: Commonly referred to as ‘talk therapy,’ psychotherapy is the treatment available talking through life issues with a practitioner every week or two and developing skills for coping with depression in a healthy way.

Think you or a loved one could benefit from treatment for depression? Get in touch with the team at Psych Associates of Maryland today to get started.


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