“A temporary mental state or chronic mental disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness, despair, low self-esteem, and self-reproach.”
However, depression affects every person differently and an influencing factor is age. Although depression has many common characteristics within every patient, there are also a multitude of variables; for example, a 16-year-olds depression is not comparable to that of a 45-year-old adult.
Age is an important aspect when recognizing and treating depression primarily because a person’s brain and hormonal levels at one age will not be the same at another. Referring to the original example, a 16-year-olds brain is not fully developed, the chemicals are altering causing a change in thought processes/intake of information as well as new hormonal maturity. These factors have the potential to throw the teenager into a situational depression because of puberty. Another variable that should be taken into consideration when examining depression versus age is the possibility of menopause. Menopause, similar to puberty, only affects a person at one point in life and has the capability of inducing depression because of hormonal and chemical changes.
According to a November 2012 article written in American Journal of Nursing, (Cahoon, 2012, pp. 22-23-24-25)
“Known risk factors for older adults include having chronic medical conditions, physical or cognitive functional decline, polypharmacy, experiencing multiple losses, and social isolation.”
Unfortunately, adult depression is one of the most common forms of depression that goes unrecognized, and therefore not treated. This is especially disheartening because adult depression is treatable, with as many as 65% to 75% successful cases (Cahoon, 2012).
There is a direct link associating specific comorbidities and depression. Because the possibilities of an older adult developing a physical illness is greater due to age, the chances of that adult also forming depression become greater as well (Cahoon, 2012).
One or more of these diseases may induce adult depression:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Diabetes (31% of adult diabetics suffer from depression)
- Parkinson’s disease (17% of adult patients with Parkinson’s disease suffer from Major Depression, 35% suffer from depressive symptoms)
- Chronic Pain (20% of adult patients with chronic pain suffer from depression)
Other factors that may influence adult depression:
- Reduced physical activity
- Poor diet, specifically focused on low fiber intake, low carbohydrate intake, and low levels on polyunsaturated fatty acids.
According to the American Journal of Nursing, (Cahoon, 2012, pp. 22-23-24-25)
“As for whether many drugs commonly taken by older adults (including antihypertensives, lipid-lowering agents, corticosteroids, and sedatives or hypnotics) are also associated with depression, the evidence is contradictory. It's important to remember the difference between correlation and causality, and that it's often not possible to determine whether a given medication actually causes depression. That said, the authors of one review suggest that when new onset or worsening of depressive symptoms occurs, withdrawal of suspect medications should be considered.”
Identifying what may be causing depression in an adult is difficult, as there are many variables. However; there are specific risk factors that increase the probability of adult depression.
- multiple losses
- personal or family history of depression
- functional decline (physical, cognitive, or both)
- chronic medical conditions
- substance abuse or dependence
- social isolation
Four common forms of depression to consider when attempting identifying adult depression include major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, depressive disorder not otherwise specified, and minor depression (Cahoon, 2012). If it is believed that someone is suffering from a form of depression it is important that he or she consult his or her family health care provider regarding diagnosis and treatment.
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Cahoon, C. G. M. D. P. A. (2012, November). Depression in Older Adults. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 112(11), 22-30. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000422251.65212.4b