How can seniors get the help needed to treat depression?

Jacob Reno
Written by
Last update:

How Can You Recognize The Signs Of Depression In The Elderly?

The condition of depression affects people of all ages. It is a disease that can ruin your life and the lives of those around you. If you’re suspecting that an elderly family member you care about is depressed, here are some of the signs that you can look for.

One common symptom of depression is lethargy, where an elderly person simply can’t find the energy to do anything. This is in sharp contrast to the fun-loving, active senior you know who used to enjoy socializing, entertaining, and taking regular walks.

In addition, you should listen for statements like, “I’ve lost my self-confidence.” The elderly person may complain of losing interest in their favorite pastimes, hobbies, and sports.

Another symptom of depression in the elderly is isolation and withdrawal from other people. Depression creates feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Many seniors with depression stop getting out of the house since their joy is gone.

What Are The Causes Of Depression In Older Adults?

Many seniors suffer from depression as they are less active and have a more frail body than they did when they were younger. Although depression can be caused by stressful events, such as losing a loved one, divorce, or losing your job, aging itself can also be a factor.

After age 70, there are more physical complaints, especially pain. Having pain can make people feel depressed because they become less active and social. Older adults who also have multiple medical problems are more likely to develop depression than those who have only a few.

When seniors lack support from friends, family, and neighbors, their risk of depression increases. Medical problems and difficulty completing daily activities can impair older adults' ability to talk about or seek help for difficult emotions. When older adults suffer from depression, they are more likely to skip doctor’s appointments and care for themselves poorly. Seniors with memory loss may not be aware that they are depressed.

Are There Self-Help Ways That Older Adults Can Use To Overcome Depression?

Depression in senior adults is a real challenge. Many seniors suffer from depression because they don’t enjoy participating in activities, they stop meeting their friends, they don’t want to get involved in their community, they ignore phone calls and emails, they don’t want to exercise or see the doctor, and they don’t want to eat. Many senior adults give up and remain in that depressed cycle.

Fortunately, the good news is that there are many self-help ways that seniors can use to get their life back on track. Each of the following steps helps one overcome depression, and each step works from the inside out.

Rediscover the joys of living: Many seniors give up and stop trying to see the beauty in life. But the point is not to focus on the family and friends that they may have lost; it’s to focus on the family and friends that they still have. Many seniors find meaning in helping others. Volunteering in the community or finding ways to share their knowledge and talents is one of the best things that a senior can do. There are also some elders that make it a priority to discover their purpose in this life. They decide to live each day like it is their last. This helps them be more active and involved.

Are There Available Treatments For Depression In Seniors Citizens?

It is not surprising that older adults are more likely to experience depression. Older adults respond less well to standard antidepressant treatment. There seem to be some complex relationships between depression, medications and alcohol use that are just being uncovered. To understand how these factors influence depression, researchers are studying the neurobiological changes that occur in the brain with age. Treatment for depression in seniors genuinely needs to be customized based on an individual’s symptoms, preferences and on the mental and physical health of the patient. Here are some treatment options that should be considered for treating depression in seniors.

Lifestyle Practices: In addition to medications, healthy lifestyle practices like better sleep, regular exercise and a healthier diet can greatly improve a person’s outlook and mood.

Are There Issues That Affect Treatment Of Depression In Older Adults?

When treating depression in seniors, it is important to understand that issues such as medical ailments, side effects of medications, and multiple medical conditions can result in the depression going undiagnosed and untreated for a longer period of time.

It's an unfortunate statistic that many medical professionals are unaware of the overlap between these medical conditions and depression.

One of the biggest issues with diagnosing and treating depression in the elderly is that depression is the most frequent and costly diagnosis made in primary care.

This study found that seniors between ages 66 and 82 are eight times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than seniors 83 and older … and over one-third of seniors with a diagnosis of depression are found to be under the care of a primary care physician!

These statistics are even more shocking when you consider that it is estimated that less than one-third of older adults living with depression ever receive depression treatment.

Early and accurate diagnosis is essential to providing effective treatment of depression in seniors. Once treatment has begun, there are a number of different treatment methods that can be tailored to reduce the side-effects of depression-related medications.

In addition, addressing the medical issues that are often associated with depression can result in greater treatment outcomes. The sooner these issues can be addressed, the better!


Depression is not something that many seniors are open to talking about …especially the men. For many years, men have been taught that they should be “tough” and that any sign of weakness (such as depression) should be kept hidden and ignored.

All of us go through low points in our lives and being able to confide in others can help us to work through depression. Talking about it with family and friends can help them to better understand the illness and how to be there for the senior who is experiencing it.

Seniors can also help themselves by finding others to confide in. If the older adult is comfortable talking about depression and can identify safe people to talk to, it will help to relieve some of the stress.

Men and older adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from depression. It affects all ages and it’s important for people of all ages to be able to open up and talk about any troubles they might be experiencing. A glass of wine, a walk in fresh air, an hour of sunshine … all of these things can help. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you need to feel less stress, less guilt or more support. There is no shame in asking for help.