Depression in the Elderly (cont.)
In this Article
- How does depression in the elderly differ from depression in younger adults?
- How is insomnia related to depression in the elderly?
- What are risk factors for depression in the elderly?
- What types of treatment are available for depression in the elderly?
- How do antidepressants relieve depression in the elderly?
- Can psychotherapy help relieve depression in the elderly?
- Who may benefit from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?
- What other problems affect treatment of depression in the elderly?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
How is insomnia related to depression in the elderly?
Insomnia is usually a symptom of depression. New studies reveal that insomnia is also a risk factor for depression onset and recurrence -- particularly in the elderly.
To treat insomnia, experts recommend the newer "hypnotic" drugs that are safe and effective in elderly people. If there's no improvement in the sleep disorder and/or depression, a psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist may prescribe medications and/or psychotherapy.
What are risk factors for depression in the elderly?
Factors that increase the risk of depression in the elderly include:
- Being female
- Being single, unmarried, divorced, or widowed
- Lack of a supportive social network
- Stressful life events
Physical conditions like stroke, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and chronic pain further increase the risk of depression. Additionally, the following risk factors for depression are often seen in the elderly:
- Certain medicines or combination of medicines
- Damage to body image (from amputation, cancer surgery, or heart attack)
- Family history of major depressive disorder
- Fear of death
- Living alone, social isolation
- Other illnesses
- Past suicide attempt(s)
- Presence of chronic or severe pain
- Previous history of depression
- Recent loss of a loved one
- Substance abuse
Brain scans of people who develop their first depression in old age often reveal spots in the brain that may not be receiving adequate blood flow. Chemical changes in these cells may enhance the likelihood of depression separate from any life stress.
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