Depression in Senior Citizens: Symptoms, Risks & Treatments
Updated: Mar 11
Senior citizens have lived full lives and built a lifetime's worth of experiences, memories and wisdom.
Unfortunately, by a person's more mature years they have also experienced stressful life events such as health problems, the death of loved ones, and retirement as well.
These stressful life events can lead to clinical depression, which can also cause senior citizens to become more vulnerable to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Other risk factors for late life depression include genetic vulnerabilities for depression, and age-associated neurobiological changes.
There are more than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 or older that have depression.
Over half of depression cases begin later in life.
Suicide rates among senior citizens are higher than in younger adults, and are closely associated with late life depression.
Sadly, only 10% of American senior citizens with depression receive the treatment they need for depression to get better.
Many senior citizens who die by suicide, have reached out for help and see a doctor the same day, week or month they die, yet depression is still frequently overlooked in them.
Depression in older adults can be mistaken as the symptoms of chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, stroke, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and thyroid disorders, just to name a few.
The misconception that depression is a normal part of aging, or the elderly's reaction to grief, loss, life changes, and illness, are some reasons why it may not be recognized and treated in older adults.
The symptoms can also be misinterpreted as a side effect of medication being taken by an elderly patient.
Older adults display symptoms of depression differently than younger adults, and don’t always admit to being depressed when asked.
Symptoms of depression in elderly adults include two weeks or more of the following:
Delusions (false beliefs)
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
Feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness
Restlessness and irritability
Thoughts of death or suicide
Vague complaints of pain
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Difficult early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Persistent and vague complaints
Help seeking (even when depression is not openly admitted or acknowledged)
Depression in older adults is also different from sadness, grief, and bereavement that may be caused by events such as the death of a loved one, or the ending of a relationship.
The grieving process for these events are considered natural yet share some of the same features of depression in older adults.
Grief is unique to each senior citizen but is not the same as depression.
It’s important to understand that like younger adults, older adults with depression cannot simply “snap out of it” because they have a medical condition that affects their quality of life.
If necessary, a mental health professional can help an elderly patient distinguish between grief they may be experiencing, and Major Depressive Disorder.
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for most cases of depression in older adults.
Treatments for depression in older adults include:
TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) therapy
Behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy
Brief psychodynamic therapy
Life review/reminiscence therapy
Problem-solving skills training
It is important that senior citizens seek out help from a licensed mental health professional that can provide them with the diagnosis, support and treatment to help their depression be managed.
At Mind Shine, LLC we have multiple ways of treating depression in senior citizens.
Mind Shine, LLC is a mental health center that specializes in TMS therapy in Raleigh, NC.
We also offer other mental health treatment options such as outpatient therapy, substance abuse counseling, teletherapy, and psychiatric medication management for adolescents, families, adults and children.
However, a patient may also continue taking their psychiatric medications while receiving TMS treatments.
For Children and Adolescents Mind Shine, LLC offers Outpatient Therapy Services, Family Therapy, Individual Counseling Services, Psychiatric Services, Medication Management, Family Counseling, and The Triple-P Program.
Our mental health center also offers online counseling services in North Carolina and Florida via our Telemedicine platform, allowing the patient to receive the help they need in the comfort of their own homes.
We also offer Suboxone Therapy for Opioid addiction to patients in the convenience of their own home, using our HIPPA compliant Telemedicine platform.
Mind Shine, LLC accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Private, Military & Group Insurance Plans, as well as cash payment plans for those Not covered by Insurance.
Please call (984) 242-4554 to set up an appointment or ask questions about we can do to help you or your loved one.
Address: 8360 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27615
Phone: (919) 366-4073
(NCBI) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, (NAMI)National Alliance on Mental Illness