Depression comes in all shapes and sizes and doesn’t hold itself to one particular age in general. However, knowing the signs and symptoms of depression along with the dangers associated with depression can impact how you handle it and know which precautions you can put into place before it becomes dangerous to your aging loved one.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Social isolation
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in energy level
- Mood; mood swings, sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, anxiety
- Excessive crying, irritability or agitation
- Thoughts of suicide
Dangers of Elderly Depression:
- Suicide; Perhaps the most dangerous risk of depression. Warning signs include giving away personal possessions, talking about death as an escape, and apparent change in mood.
- Obesity; Eating is often times a way to self-medicate when feeling depressed. Coupled with the lack of energy to exercise, over-eating is a dangerous combination.
- Diabetes; Depression can increase signs of Type 2 Diabetes related to eating poorly, not exercising, and not taking care of yourself in general. Diabetes needs to be taken care of and when it’s not the side effects can be deadly.
- Mental Decline; Loss of brainpower is a result of depression. Brain scans among the elderly with depression showed shrinkage in certain areas of the brain that is more significant than among elderly people without depression.
- Heart Disease; Depression can increase your risk of experiencing a heart attack. Studies have shown that depression can lead to heart disease, make heart disease worse, and make it more difficult to recover from complications of heart disease.
- Increased Pain; Chronic pain may lead to depression, which often times (if depression is left untreated) makes the pain worse and harder to manage. Studies have shown that people with depression are 50 percent more likely to complain of physical symptoms like pain when they visit a doctor.
If you are aware of any of these combinations of signs or symptoms in your aging loved one, please talk to them and help them seek proper medical treatment. If left untreated, the dangers of elderly depression can be life threatening.