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Aging is a part of life we can’t avoid. Getting older often involves some degree of loss: loss of memory, hearing, eyesight, physical mobility. These and other age-related health changes are common, but challenging.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50 percent have two or more. Chronic illness can put older adults at increased risk for depression.
Adults with chronic pain are three to four times more likely to be depressed. Depression is one of the most common complications of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. The risk of depression increases with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes, as well as personal and family history.
Unfortunately, older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. The CDC reports that less than 30 percent of older adults who need treatment actually receive it. When depression surfaces in older adults, it shouldn’t be dismissed as an inevitable or natural part of aging.
For older adults, the impact of depression on overall health can be severe. Depression takes a toll on the body and increases the risk of developing several illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
It’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms of depression and notify your doctor if you notice a problem. There are some obvious signs of depression, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or flat. Other symptoms may not be as recognizable.
The first sign that something is wrong often occurs when a person suddenly stops caring for himself or herself. Other warning signs of depression in older adults include:
Depression is more than feeling sad sometimes. When symptoms linger and begin to interfere with work, family or social life, it’s time to seek help. Depression is treatable, and treatment can make a difference in your entire well-being so you can get back to life.
What else can you do to feel better as you get older? Here are seven ways to adjust to aging:
If symptoms persist and interfere with your everyday life, don’t dismiss them as a normal part of getting older. Noticeable changes in mood, energy level or appetite can signal a problem. Seek help from your doctor so you can embrace aging.
Older adults have unique medical and psychological needs. Learn about our geriatric services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, including an inpatient program dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of adults ages 60 and older, and an inpatient Generations program for ages 50 and older who need structure, support and healing.
Explore behavioral health resources, or call 630-305-5027 for a free behavioral health assessment.
Are you at risk for depression? Take our free, online DepressionAware risk assessment.
Has a serious or chronic illness got you depressed?
Does chronic pain have you depressed?
Could you have low-grade depression?
Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:
Getting help for depression
Beating common depression stigmas
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