Despite being a fairly common problem amongst older adults, depression is not a typical part of aging. Around 6 million Americans ages 65 and older experience late-life depression, but only 10 percent receive treatment. Too often, seniors, family, and health care professionals miss the common signs of depression in the elderly. Because of this, National Depression Screening Day (October 11th) is very crucial to the well-being of seniors.
According to the CDC, older adults have an increased risk for depression, especially if they are coping with other illnesses. In addition, seniors are often misdiagnosed because some health care providers assume that symptoms of depression are due to illness or aging, rather than something that should be treated.
It is important to be aware of the signs of depression. Here are some common symptoms to look for:
While several of these signs may reflect the effects of aging, multiple symptoms combined could indicate signs of mental distress.
While depression affects nearly all age demographics, there is a difference in depression between younger and older adults.
Depression in seniors is associated with an increased risk of cardiac diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and heart disease requiring chronic disease care, along with an increased risk of death from illness. Studies of nursing home patients experiencing physical illness show that depression considerably increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. It also negatively impacts a senior’s ability to rehabilitate from other illnesses. Even in cases where the depression appears mild, it is vital to ensure that elderly individuals receive proper evaluation and treatment.
In addition to increased health risks, depression increases the risk of suicide, particularly in older Caucasian men. The suicide rate among people ages 80 to 84 is nearly double that of the general population.
Aging is also frequently associated with loss of social support systems due to illness or the death of a spouse or siblings, in addition to retirement, or relocation of residence. These changes in circumstances can contribute to physicians and family missing the key symptoms of depression leading to delayed treatment and unnecessary struggle.
National Depression Screening Day is October 11 this year. The screenings use a standard series of questions and are typically conducted by primary care doctors. They can provide a more effective evaluation for depression, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Screenings are held at hospitals, clinics, colleges, senior care facilities, other mental health organizations, in addition to being available online. Contact your primary care physician for more information on screenings.
A 2009 study conducted by Robert Aseltine, Ph.D., shows that screenings make a notable impact on people who suspect they might be experiencing depression. In this study, Dr. Aseltine surveyed 322 participants who completed an online depression screening between October and December to see is screenings led to treatment. Over half of the participants sought help for depression after their screening, and 55 percent of those who initially scored “very likely for depression” were no longer in that category upon receiving treatment.
If you are looking to be screened for depression, contact Primary Care Physicians of Florida. We have doctors who accept Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicaid on staff, as well as others who are on the list of Humana healthcare providers.
Some of the other insurances we carry at Primary Care Physicians of Florida are (but not limited to): Medicare, Cigna, Avmed, Molina, and Guardian. Please contact us for more information about the insurance plans we accept.
Set up a same-day doctor appointment by calling 954-983-9191 or fill out our online contact form to get started now.