Learn to recognize the signs of depression

Depression affects more areas of your life then you may realize. It is not solely a feeling of sadness but it also affects your thinking, emotions and physical health. Depression is not  “normal” at any age, and if not treated correctly can lead to death.

Geriatric depression often has a different face, and different causes, than depression in younger people. It can be tied to – and lead to – other medical problems affecting the elderly, as well.

In senior citizens, depression can be triggered by the transition from full-time employee to retiree, the loss of physical mobility, the loss of a spouse or the stress of mounting bills. It is estimated that 3 out of every 100 seniors experience depression.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, seniors who have experienced symptoms of depression in the past are at a greater risk for reoccurrence in their later years.

Later-life depression is commonly present with other medical illnesses and disabilities. Depression in seniors doubles their risk of cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness. And it last longer in seniors.

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health considers depression in people age 65 and older to be a major public health problem. For example, the suicide rate in people ages 80-84 is more than twice that of the general population.

As a senior citizen it is important to understand that depression is a whole body disorder and it should not and cannot be left untreated.

Typically, doctors can treat symptoms of depression depression with psychotherapy but for some people a combination of both psychotherapy and medication may bring more results.

Depression in seniors is more commonly present in women, people who are single (unmarried or divorced), people who have a lack of supportive social network, people who encounter stressful life events and it is commonly combined with illnesses such as stroke, diabetes, cancer and dementia.

Depression can only be treated if the patient is willing. Do not think you are too old to receive treatment or that is may be a sign of weakness.

As a senior citizen you deserve the right to a long and happy life, so don’t let depression stand in your way.

Self Administered Depression Tests

It is important to recognize that any self administered depression test should not be viewed as a substitute for tests administered by trained medical professionals.  Depression tests administered by yourself should only be an indicator of whether or not to seek professional help.  If you regularly display 3 or more of the following depression symptoms, you should consider getting in touch with a local health professional for additional testing:

  • persistent sadness
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • decreased energy
  • sleep problems
  • eating problems
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • excessive crying
  • irritability


Useful Resources

Depression in Older Adults: A Guide for Patients and Families

Overcoming Geriatric Depression

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation