Aging and Depression Are Not Connected 

Aging and depression, and not connected like many people would like you to think.

If fact, it is a very treatable condition and in most cases, has absolutely nothing to do with getting older.

Depression Is Not A Normal Part of The Aging Process

As a 64 year old this subject has really caught my attention, and I have dug into some real numbers and facts.

I have read articles that suggest up to 2 million seniors are diagnosed with depression, and another 5 million may have the symptom but do not ”meet the diagnostic criteria ”.

This same article from caring.com goes on to state the 50% of all seniors in nursing homes are depressed, and 75% face it in their end of life experiences.

However, I have also seen articles that state that the actual number of aging and depression related and real cases is somewhere between 1% to 5%, and those in nursing home rise to about 13%.

Wow, these seem very different numbers so let’s look at some more facts about aging and depression, using some numbers from the 2015 U.S census. 

  • The population in the United States was 321, 773,000
  • Ages 55-59 male/female is 6.9% of the 2015 numbers
  • Ages 60-64 male/female is 5.8%
  • Ages 65-69 male/female is 5.0%
  • Ages 70 and older ( I stopped at 90 years old)  is 9.8 %

Ok, combined in or age groups between 55 and 90 years of age, all of us as seniors, is 27.5% of the total U. S Population.

Now, I am not a math major, but I do know that when you divide 321,773.000 by 27.5% you get 11,700, 836.

If you take the 2 million seniors that caring.com suggests is connected to aging and depression that is right on the 5% the other article I have posted as a source uses.

Couple on the beach with their dogCouple on the beach with their dog

Here is my point—again and depression DOES NOT go hand in hand. Depression has nothing to do with us getting older. If it did, the numbers would be a lot higher than 5%.

2 million sides like a very high number, unless you put it in perspective.

However, it is still something we should all be concerned about and understand exactly what it is, what can trigger it, as well as how it can be treated.

On my page aging and memory loss, there are several underlying potential causes, and the same is true with this condition.

Depression in seniors, if it does occur, is not just feeling down and out or going through the sadness of losing a loved one.

Common Warning Signs of Aging and Depression

It is instead, a medical condition and can easily be treated.

Here are some of the most common warning signs to watch for

  • A feeling of hopelessness that becomes a pattern
  • A feeling of worthlessness and without cause
  • A sudden loss of interest in something we used to really like to do
  • A loss of energy to the point of felling tired all the time
  • A loss of concentration in simple tasks
  • Aches and pains that we used to ignore and work trough
  • Insomnia—perhaps the most telling warning sign

However, even though this is a medical condition, aging and depression does have a few things in common.

As we get older, we are going to start to have health conditions we never used to have. If they become life threatening or lifestyle changing, it can trigger it.

But here is the most important part of this entire article that both my wife and I have learned through experience—older adults are misdiagnosed.

We not only saw this first hand, we were absolutely shocked when we first took in her mother by not only the fact that she was misdiagnosed, also the number of times it happened.

You do not go from being given 30-60 days to live, suffer sundowning so bad it looks like delirium, and being told “her depression” was one of the major causes, to what really happened.

You do not live another 7 years in very good health and no signs of aging and depression, if all of the diagnosis was indeed correct.

Several Types of Treatments

This condition is very easy to treat, if it is properly diagnosed. If you have any doubts at all, get a 2nd or even 3rd opinion like we did.

There are several very effective anti-depressant drugs that can help, but there are also some natural things you can try as well.

Again, just like aging and memory loss, there can be a nutritional deficiency that may be triggering it.

They include the following:

  • A bad diet
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Insomnia
  • St. Johns wart
  • Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency

Leading this list is a bad overall diet. As we age, we cannot eat junk food like we used to, or it will begin to takes its toll.

If you are eating a lot of processed food instead of nutrient rich foods, you are asking for problems.

One of the worst things for us as we age is sugar, as the daily requirement for men our age is 9 teaspoons of added sugar, and for women it is 6 teaspoons.

One can of soda adds 8 teaspoons into your system.

Vitamin 12 has been known for years as the energy nutrient, but it also helps the transmission of signals to our brain.

When these signals reach the brain and do not have enough power, you begin to experience a lot of the symptoms listed.

Insomnia and a lack of sleep can easily affect the mind at our age, and may be the real problem,

St Johns wart has been used for hundreds of years in Europe for both anxiety and mood swings.

However, because it is so powerful it can interfere with some medications. Because of this, you should always check with your doctor first.

Our brain cell membranes contain a lot of natural omega-3 acids, and several reports have shown low levels can affect our overall brain functions and lead to anxiety and memory issues.

Aging and depression can easily be treated, and do not take anyone’s word that it is part of getting older.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm

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