As one of the most common mental health problems in old age, depression affects about 1 in 10 older people living in the community. It can affect every aspect of the older person’s life: energy, appetite, sleep, interest, and relationships.
However, depression is not a normal part of ageing. It can be effectively treated and prevented. With adequate support, intervention, and preventive strategies, our older persons can lead a meaningful and fulfilling life regardless of age.
While depression and sadness might seem to go hand in hand, many seniors with depression may not directly express feeling of sadness. Some of the complaints depressed older people make are:
Anxious or “empty” mood
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
Changes in sleep: difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Changes in activity: slowed movement, speech, or reaction
Fatigue, loss of energy, or noticeably “slowing down”
Significant changes in appetite or changes in weight
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
Unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches and arthritis pain that are difficult to treat
Thoughts of self-harm or thoughts of suicide
Certain life situations place older adults at a higher risk for depression. These include:
Recent widowhood (e.g., within recent 2 years)
History of having depression or anxiety disorder
Having at least one chronic illness
Having financial difficulty
Lack of social interaction
Feelings of loneliness
Having difficulties moving around or has other disabilities
Below is a quick checkup to discuss with your beloved older person if you suspect he/she is depressed.