Psychological Perspectives with Dr. Deb
Learning the myths that surround geriatric depression can help you identify it in yourself or a loved one. Remember, depression is a serious, but treatable disorder.
· Myth: Depression is a normal part of aging.
· Fact: Depression is not a normal part of aging. This is the biggest myth of aging and mental health. Depression at any age is not a normal part of the aging process.
· Myth: Depression in later life is not a major health concern.
· Fact: The World Health Organization has stated that depression is a global crisis. Late life depression occurs in about 15% of seniors ages 65 and older. In the United States alone approximately 7 million older adults meet the criteria for a depressive disorder. However, over 90% of seniors are not being diagnosed or treated for this illness, which places them at enormous risk. Depression in the most common mental health problem for the elderly.
· Fact: Depression is not a one-size-fits-all illness. It actually presents differently in seniors than in younger individuals. Studies suggest seniors experience more structural changes in the brain and vascular issues, and aren’t aware that they’re feeling depressed. Seniors report more somatic complaints and irritability than sadness or despair as do younger people.
· Myth: The risk of suicide in the elderly is greatly exaggerated.
· Fact: The population for the greatest risk of suicide is the elderly, with men, age 85 and older having the highest death by suicide rate of all. Though suicide rates for seniors varies across countries and cultures, data shows that 85-90% of persons aged 65 years and over who died by suicide had a diagnosable depressive disorder. Also, 2/3 of seniors who died by suicide were seen by primary care physicians within a month of their deaths, and up to 1/2 half were treated by a primary care doctor within one week of their deaths. These statistics makes the need for identifying at-risk seniors urgently crucial.
· Myth: Seriously depressed people cannot lead productive lives.
· Fact: Seniors with depression can live full, productive lives. In fact, many high profile people – even now in their golden years – are doing incredible things despite living with depression. Consider senior celebs like Rocker, Bruce Springsteen, Actor Harrison Ford, Talk Show Host and Writer Dick Cavett, Comedian Stephen Fry, Entrepreneur Richard Branson, Tennis Legend Cliff Richey. How about the greatness of President Abraham Lincoln, Choreographer Alvin Ailey, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Film Director Akira Kurosawa and Artist Michelangelo. It’s considered that depression helped all of these significant icons achieve greatness.
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