7 Things You Should Know About Depression
The death of Robin Williams puts the spotlight on mental illness among older adults. Learn how depression can affect you —and what you can do about it
Consider: More than 6.5 million older adults struggle with depression, but fewer than 10 percent receive treatment.
Add that suicide rates among this cohort are up to seven times higher than in other age groups, so finding some relief in any way — whether with antidepressants or talk therapy — could prove life-saving.
But there’s a problem. Doctors often miss the signs of depression in an older population because the symptoms are different in younger patients. Instead of feeling sad or blue, seniors are apt to feel irritable or tired, have trouble sleeping, lose their appetite and be unable to concentrate, new research published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology finds.
In fact, Helen C. Kales, M.D., professor of psychiatry and researcher at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, says research shows that up to 40 percent of older patients with depression — that’s 2.6 million people — may have such symptoms. No wonder it’s so much harder to diagnose depression in older adults.
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