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Depression in older adults and the elderly

Depression, although common in the elderly, is not a natural part of the aging process. Unfortunately older adults and the elderly are less likely to recognize the symptoms of depression, or to obtain help. Untreated depression poses serious risks such as illness, alcohol and prescription drug abuse, and a higher mortality and suicide rate. Even if the untreated depression is not severe enough to cause any of these, it still reduces a persons enjoyment and quality of life.

There are many things that contribute to or cause depression in older adults. Some of those are: 

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Reduced sense of purpose
  • Recent loss of a loved one – spouse, close friend, family member and pet
  • Health issues
  • Medications

According to the Consumer Report on Health, there are a number of common medications that older adults take that can cause depression. Those include:

  • Acid Reducers – Tagamet and Zantac
  • Antiarrhythmics – Lanoxin and Norpace
  • Antibiotics and Antivirals – Acyclovir (Zovirax), Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Blood-pressure drugs – Beta-blockers such as atenolol and metroprolol (Lopressor), Clonidine, Methyldopa, and Perindopril
  • Corticosteriods – Methylprednisolone (Medrol) and Prednisone
  • Painkillers – Codeine, Demerol, Talwin, Darvon
  • Sleep Aids – Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien

Some signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Sadness
  • Fatigue, or sleeping difficulties
  • Losing interest in hobbies or other previously enjoyed activities
  • Withdrawing socially and isolating from friends
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Neglecting personal hygiene, forgetting medications
  • Worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness
  • Irritability

Chances are a person suffering from depression will not recognize it on their own. Remaining involved in the lives of our older and elderly family members and friends is vital to their well being. Recognizing the signs and proper treatment of depression in older adults and the elderly will help them live a happier and more fulfilling life.

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