The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 20% of persons over 55 years of age have some kind of mental health concern or issue. The top mental health concerns for people over 55 include:
1) some form of anxiety disorder,
2) cognitive impairment (thinking and problem solving) and
3) some form of mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder etc.
Older men are at higher risk for suicide than older women and younger men. The highest rate of suicide is among men 85 years and older. The rate is 45.21/100,000 as opposed to a rate of 11.01/100,000 for all ages.
Mental Health Information: Depression
It is important for people to know and understand that depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Just because someone is aging does not mean they will become depressed. Depression is a mental health disorder, not an aging disorder.
An ageing individual, who is suffering with depression, may exhibit symptoms such as: physical complaints and ailments, complaints about mental health problems and exhibit a decrease in social interest and functioning.
Although it appears depression increases with the ageing process, acquiring depression as one ages is not inevitable. It has been found that 80% of cases of depression in the ageing population is treatable. This means that ageing people do not have to live with the mental health issue of depression. This is the crux of the problem though; depression is under-recognized in the aging population and thus it goes under-treated.
Mental Health Information: Depression and Medical Conditions
It is very common to find depression in the ageing population who have other health conditions and illness. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s disease are often found to co-exist in aging persons who have depression. This seems to be logical because many ageing individuals have, or are trying to prevent ,these kinds of diseases.
Unfortunately many health care professionals do not understand that depression is not a part of these conditions and illnesses, but a separate unique mental health issue in and of itself. The feeling that the symptoms of depression are a part of the medical condition is also widely held among aging individuals. This is often the reason why they do not seek help from qualified mental health professionals.
Not treating depression causes serious issues related to recovery and healing from medical conditions and illness. Untreated depression even has the potential to worsen the ultimate effect of other illnesses.
Aging and Mental Health: Depression or Memory Loss
Another complication of ageing and depression is determining whether a memory loss is related to the ageing process, to Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia, or to depression. One of the classic symptoms of depression is having a problem with concentration. The inability to concentrate causes issues related to being able to focus, difficulty in making decisions and the ability to remember (memory).
Aging and Mental Health: How to Help
If you know an ageing person who is feeling helpless and hopeless, has lost interest in daily life and activities, is exhibiting a change in appetite and weight, sleeps more or less, is irritable or restless, has less energy, doesn’t like themselves, is unable to concentrate and complains of aches and pains, you are looking depression in the face.
Get them help.