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Depression is an illness that causes you to feel sad, lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy, withdraw from others, and have little energy. It's different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. Depression can also cause people to feel hopeless about the future and to even think about suicide.
It is not a character flaw, and it does not mean that you are a bad or weak person.
Depression is very common. It affects men and women of all ages.
If you think you may be depressed, tell your doctor. Treatment can help you enjoy life again.
Both older and younger adults go through the same major life changes or challenges that may trigger depression. These include medical problems, life events, and having a family history of depression.
But some events are more common in older adults. This includes things like losing a spouse, living with a long-term health problem, or leaving a home you've lived in for years. And like others who experience a life change, older adults may feel sad and may grieve and recover, or they may develop depression.
Some older adults are more likely to be depressed than other older adults. Those who are more likely include:
Common symptoms of depression, such as sadness and loss of interest, occur in older adults just as they do in other adults. But older adults also may feel confused or forgetful and stop seeing friends and doing things. They may also have a hard time sleeping and may not feel like eating.
If your doctor thinks you are depressed, he or she will ask you questions about your health and feelings. Your doctor also may:
But depression often is missed in older adults. This may be because:
Depression is usually treated with supportive activities, counselling, therapy, medicine, or a combination of these. Treatment usually works. For mild or short-term symptoms in older adults, first try supportive activities. This could include exercise, talking about memories, virtual visits, gardening, and social groups. For severe symptoms and those that last longer, sometimes antidepressant medicine may be used.
Older adults may have special concerns when using medicine.
A caregiver or family member may need to help the older adult remember to take the medicines.
You can do many things to help yourself when you feel depressed or are waiting for your treatment to work. These things also help prevent depression from coming back.
Taking good care of yourself is important as you recover from depression. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, including counselling. If your doctor prescribed medicines, take them exactly as they are prescribed. And call your doctor if you are having problems.
Adaptation Date: 2/23/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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