As a senior, your body changes as you age. There are physical changes such as: heart rate, breathing ease, digestion, and many others. But there are also mental and emotional changes that happen as well. For example: while a woman goes through menopause, her physical body is changing, but she also experiences the overwhelming sensation of many emotions, heat flashes, etc. Each change comes over the course of being an elder. Many elders seem to ignore the emotional ones the most. While sadness and grief may come normally during aging, depression is not a normal part of aging.
There are many symptoms of depression which overlap into typical sadness, making it harder to be noticed by a doctor, loved one, or even yourself.
Everybody is different and will experience different symptoms. Here are some symptoms of depression (Source: nimh.niv.gov):
- Feeling sad or empty
- Feeling hopeless, agitated, irritated, anxious, or guilty
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feeling very tired
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of sleep, or too much sleep
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm (If this is the case, please either dial 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255)
- Constant headaches, cramps, aches, pains, or digestive issues
Depression is common and the symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot.
How can you help your loved ones?
There are many different ways to intervene and help your loved one with depression.
First and foremost is to get them a doctor’s appointment. The start of therapy is a huge step towards combating depression.
Listen to them. Make sure you note their concerns, worries, and listen. Knowing that there is someone willing to listen and try to help is a huge relief.
Never ignore comments about suicide. Always report it to their doctor or therapist.
Go on walks. Do activities that you both enjoy.
And also, remind them that with time and medication, the depression will lift. Have hope.
(Source: Google Images)