There is no such diagnosis as “elderly depression”.
However this term is frequently used by people and thus needs an explanation.
Elderly Depression is a term commonly used (outside the healthcare professionals circle) for all elderly people that suffer from any type of depression. In other words, if you are over 65 and you suffer from depression you can find a lot of information that may be relevant to you on the internet by typing “elderly depression”.
Depression is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Advancing age is accompanied by loss of many things including job due to the retirement, siblings, spouse and friends due to their death, health, sexual potency, beauty, physical strength, energy, etc. In other words, loss is a normal part of aging.
Losing the social support and other things numbered above is not easy. In fact it is very difficult and challenging but many elderly people go through their losses without getting depressed. This means that despite their losses and dramatic changes in their lives they retained or found a new meaning of life.
Aging and being old is not a disease. There are aged people that have good health and enjoy life. There are also aged individuals that have poor health but still feel joy and happiness.
One doesn’t need to be healthy to be happy. Ill people can very well feel happiness and have a meaningful life. On the other side there are individuals that are young and have perfect health but suffer from depression and even commit a suicide.
If you are over 65 and suffer from depression you need to know that depression is not a normal part of aging. Depression is a condition, mental disorder that is treatable; nothing more, nothing less.
Signs of Depression in Elderly
Alcohol abuse or alcoholism
Neglect of personal hygiene
Being negative about everything
Severe mood swings
Substantial weight gain or loss
Symptoms of Depression in Elderly
Thinking about death or suicide
Feeling sad most of the time
Feelings of guilt
Having racing thoughts
Treatment for Elderly Depression
Unfortunately, the majority of aged individuals that suffer from elderly depression never get treatment for it. We, as Western society do not have enough respect for elderly and their needs. This lack of respect is causing us to be ignorant and unable to distinguish between an elderly individual and depressed elderly individual.
Psychotherapy is the best treatment for elderly depression and many other mental disorders. In psychotherapy one is educated about his or her depression and provided with coping tools, support, guidance, care, acceptance, and understanding; all of which are essential for successful recovery from depression.
Depression medication (antidepressants) should be used only if necessary; for example, in case of severe depression such as depressive disorder with psychotic features. Antidepressants are not a cure for depression. They are therapeutic tool that is used in order to reduce individual’s severe and debilitating symptoms of depression so that he or she is able to actively participate in psychotherapy.
Elderly Depression Prognosis
If elderly individual that suffers from depression is appropriately treated for his or her disorder the prognosis is very optimistic. However if afflicted individual is not in psychotherapy but treated in other ways such as only pharmacotherapy, the prognosis is quite pessimistic.
There is no magic pill for depression or any other mental disorder. If you suffer from depression you need to know that the only way to beat your depression is to face it and confront it in psychotherapy. Your psychotherapist can help you a lot but you are the one that have the leading role in your life and thus in your treatment as well.