Misconceptions of Depression in the Elderly


Depression is a serious condition that is quite common in the elderly. With the proper intervention, depression can be treated and the quality of elderly depression, elderly assistanceelderly depression, elderly assistancelife is improved. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about depression that stop people from getting the proper treatment. A lot of people think of depression as something that exists only in the head and will eventually go away. Others, especially older people, think that they are too old to be treated or that asking for help or admitting that they have a problem is a sign of weakness of failure. These false notions should be corrected so that the person can end his loneliness and return to a more fulfilling life. The treatment of depression greatly depends on the cause and extent of the condition. It would also depend on the preference of the person involved. If the depression is classified as mild or moderate, the most common treatment done is psychotherapy. However, if the depression becomes incapacitating or seriously interferes with the person's daily activities, certain medications are given for a period of time backed up by psychotherapy. Medication can relieve the symptoms that have manifested physically while psychotherapy helps the patient adapt to more effective ways to cope with the everyday events of life.

Common myths about antidepressant medications should be clarified. The pills do not cure depression or "make the problems disappear". They do help depressed people feel better about themselves by controlling the physical symptoms that go with the condition. However, it should be emphasized that counseling should be done alongside drug therapy to help the sufferer deal with the issues themselves. Medications are helpful when they mobilize people who have gone through surgery or other treatments that may leave them tired, hopeless, or helpless to get up in the morning. Studies show that older people who take antidepressants tend to develop less hypertensities as they get older compared to those who are not treated for depression. These hypertensities are fine white lesions found under the cortex of the brain of a person who has developed age-related illnesses such as dementia. There are many precautions that should be followed when the patient receiving the medication is a senior. The elderly person and his caregiver, if any, should read the package for any side effects, potential drug interactions with other medicines, any sedative effects, or risks for dependency. The person should also be informed whether the drug can cause orthostatic hypotension so that he may take the necessary safety measures. Lastly, compliance to the drug regimen should be stressed because many seniors tend to forget to take their medicine.

Aside from antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, other common treatments for depression are trauma-centered therapy, counseling and hormone replacement therapy. If the cause of the depression is an underlying physical condition, the patient is treated for it. If the depression is a side effect of certain drugs taken by the patient, his drugs are changed or the dosage is altered to alleviate the symptoms. ECT or Electroconvulsive therapy is considered the last resort in treating depression due to high risks. ECT is believed to "jump start" the brain by increasing its electrical activity.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Depression

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