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A Not So Jolly Holiday for Some Seniors

Holiday Blues in the Elderly: Watch for these Warning Signs of Depression

Depression is an often overlooked mental condition in the elderly, and society’s belief that feeling blue is just another thing that happens to us as we age means this serious health concern routinely goes undiagnosed and untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have multiple chronic conditions and/or limited functioning are at increased risk for depression. With over 80% of older adults in this category, it is no surprise that this demographic is at greater risk.

The holidays can be a particularly challenging time of year for someone struggling with depression. Missing loved ones lost over the years, loneliness, overscheduled calendars, stress over money and gifts—this time of year can wreak havoc on anyone’s emotional state. Be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms if you suspect your loved one may be suffering from depression:

  • Sadness or anxiety that lasts for more than 2 weeks
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment

Depression can be treated, and you should encourage your loved one to seek help immediately if you believe they are depressed.  For more information on depression in the elderly, visit the CDC’s website.

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