Senior Lifestyles: Depression: Signs, symptoms,treatment

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We’ve all experienced times during our lives that involved tremendous sadness.

It’s important to realize that sadness is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences. Some of the many events that can leave people feeling sad or unhappy include the loss or absence of a loved one, divorce, loss of job or income, financial trouble, issues at home, failing an exam, not getting a job, or other disappointing events can also trigger sadness.

Fortunately, as most of us have learned, sadness dissipates over time. Many of us have dealt with these tough times by crying, venting, or talking out frustrations.

But for some, it seems that the sadness becomes a blanket of dark fog that just won’t lift. If this becomes the case and the person becomes unable to function normally, it may be a sign of clinical depression.

If the symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

For some, what begins as sadness may develop into mild or more severe depression. The more severe the depression, the more likely it is that others will notice the increasing changes which can include delusions, hallucinations, and thoughts about self-harm or suicide. 

People at this level of depression will likely need to be seen by a doctor and may require medication, hospitalization, or have a type of talking therapy recommended to treat the depression.

Before turning to drugs to treat mild depression, there are some simple steps that may help. These include eating more fresh foods, getting more fresh air, starting or increasing an exercise program, meditating to quiet your mind and talking with friends and family.

It’s very important to understand that seeking help from a doctor or therapist is not a sign of weakness, and is no longer seen as a stigma. Rather, it shows good judgment and common sense because treating issues that affect your mental health are no different than what you would do if faced with an illness or injury.

Depression in today’s society is an increasing problem. In 2017, depression was the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Depression may be so widespread because it has no single cause.

While women are more likely to become depressed than men, there are other major contributing factors such as being economically disadvantaged, having chronic health conditions such as cancer or heart disease, and having come from a family where one or both parents had depression.

There can be many events that trigger periods of depression like birthdays and holidays that remind us of a time of sadness and loss, but those tend to be short-lived.  If you or someone you know seems depressed, and after two weeks show no signs of improving, consider suggesting that it might be a very good idea to seek medical help.

Depression is an illness, and life is always better when we’re living it well and happy.

Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. He may be contacted at 828-696-9799 or by email at drron561@gmail.com.