Depression Devastates. Take Action Early

by MPC Foundation

Depression is one of the most common disorders in older adults. Among adults aged 60 and older, 15% to 20% have some depressive symptoms. However, depression is often unrecognized and untreated in older adults. One of the reasons for that is the tendency to communicate psychological distress by complaining about physical symptoms such as sleep problems, fatigue, and lack of energy. These symptoms are naturally occurring in older adults and hence, often mis-attributed to normal aging rather than depression. The myth that it is normal for older adults to feel some form of depression may result in depression being overlooked. Depression cannot be ignored. It is important to recognize the problem and take action.


Recognizing the problem

Although symptoms vary with each person, depression in older adults can include the following cognitive, behavioral, and physical changes:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling "slowed down"

  • Sleep problems (insomnia, oversleeping, early-morning waking)

  • Eating problems (loss of appetite, weight loss, weight gain)

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness

  • Thoughts of death or suicide; a suicide attempt

  • Irritability

  • Excessive crying

  • Recurring aches and pains that don't respond to treatment


Taking action

Depression treatments are manageable when treated early. Treatments can range from taking anti-depressants to a range of psychological treatments, cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, problem solving therapy and reminiscence therapy. For further information and advice, call 811 where you can speak to a healthcare professional with language support.

We are a registered non-profit dedicated to empowering seniors to celebrate aging. For the month of November, we will launch our StraightTalk series, promoting well-written articles as well as radio spots to raise awareness of the importance of mental health issues impacting seniors and older adults. Visit mpcfdn.ca for more information.