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6 Signs of Depression in Seniors

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, November 4, 2016

As we age, we know that we will probably experience more illness and physical problems. Depression, however, is also quite common in senior citizens, and it can impact your health more than you might think. Since mental health can actually affect the immune system and other bodily functions, you should be on guard against depression in yourself and your loved ones. Interestingly enough, for senior citizens, depression might not manifest as obvious symptoms like crying and sadness.

The following symptoms might surprise you, but they are actually very common signs of depression in seniors.

Cognitive impairment. We tend to associate memory problems with aging, but depression can also take a toll on our reasoning abilities. The apathy and lack of energy felt by those suffering from depression can cause confusion and difficulty with ordinary tasks.

Chest pains. There really might be something to the idea of a “broken heart”. Depressed people show more signs of coronary disease, and depression even makes it less likely that you would survive a heart problem. Those who have heart failure and also suffer from depression are four times more likely to die prematurely.

Irritability. We think of depression as chronic sadness, but it can also manifest as anger and hostility.

Headaches. While we don’t understand the exact link, those with chronic headaches (particularly, migraines) are more likely to also suffer from depression.

Gastrointestinal disorders. Those who are depressed often report chronic nausea, constipation, digestive pain, appetite changes, and weight fluctuations. If you notice any of these symptoms, depression is one potential culprit.

Joint and back pain. Depression and physical pain might be a chicken versus egg dilemma. Experiencing chronic pain could make anyone depressed; on the other hand, we also know that chronic depression can increase the risk of disorders like arthritis. The bottom line is this: If you’re experiencing pain, you’re also at higher risk of depression.

Since depression can affect so many areas of our health, it’s crucial to watch for symptoms in yourself and loved ones. If you notice any of these signs of depression, talk to a geriatric specialist about your concerns. Counseling and even medication can help resolve depression, and often physical symptoms will then improve as well.

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