Depression in older adults is common, but it is not a normal part of aging. The fact is depression is a serious condition that:
- Affects more than 6.5 million people in the U.S. age 65 years and older
- Could make it difficult to treat other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease
- Is treatable and sometimes preventable
Understand the warning signs of depression. Feeling sad or blue is an
- occasional part of life. If these feelings last more than two weeks, it may be a sign of depression. Other signs are:
- Sadness lasting most of the day or almost everyday
- Loss of interest in all or almost all activities
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Sleeping more or less than normal
- Feeling irritable, agitated, restless or slow
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty thinking, focusing or concentrating
- Repeated thoughts of death or suicide – call your doctor or 911 immediately
Understand why you may feel depressed
Feeling blue is not uncommon, but it is important to know that you may be at risk of depression if you are:
- Grieving the loss of a loved one
- Losing a sense of independence – needing a caregiver or a health care facility
- Retiring – feeling a loss of purpose or professional identity
- Feeling unwell – due to pain, illness, injury and other conditions
- Under stress – mentally, physically or financially
- Taking certain medications
- Misusing alcohol or prescription drugs
Know when to get help.
Call your primary care provider if you feel any of the following for two weeks or more:
- Sad, blue or down
- Tired, slow or lacking energy
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life
Take the first step toward getting help.
You don’t have to live with depression. Talk to your primary care provider to find the treatment that is right for you. The sooner you call your doctor, the sooner you can start getting back to life.
Help is available. Talk to your primary care provider openly and honestly.