Depression In The Elderly
If you think that depression runs only in children, adolescents or middle-aged adults facing a midlife crisis, then think again. The elderly are very prone to depression for many reasons. You would think that by reaching your 80s or 90s, you would be happy to have lived such a long life and have experienced many decades full of excitement and technological changes and advancements. But depression is depression and like I always like to say, it has no boundaries!
Mental illness does not care whether you’re good-looking, ugly, poor, rich, tall, short, 97 or 10 years of age . . . it attempts to hook you and keep a strong grasp on you until one of three things happen: you successfully recover, you continue to be tortured by living symptomatically or you kill yourself. Obviously mental illness prefers option number two and three; successfully recovering means that mental illness has failed and has to go looking for another potential victim.
Depression in the elderly happens for many reasons. Even those who have lived prosperous lives can fall into depression when they become old. Remember that the brain ages and when it does so, it starts to malfunction along with the senses. The body also becomes weaker. But one thing that remains the same is the soul, so when the soul recognizes that the mind and body are falling apart, it becomes vulnerable to sadness.
So even the elderly experience suicidal ideations of wishing to be dead, “I’ve lived long enough . . . I’m better off dead.” But they don’t actually want to die because after they receive some Lexapro and Seroquel into their system, they start to feel much better and deny feeling depressed or suicidal. But if they lack a strong psychosocial support system, they may fall in-between the cracks and unfortunately pass away.
That’s why it’s very important to keep in touch with any elders who you may know and constantly check in with them regarding how they’re feeling. The elderly may no longer have facial expressions or a body language that is obvious in regards to depression; they may just sit there with a blank facial expression entertaining various ways of ending their lives, such as mixing their pills with a bottle of Jack and overdosing in the middle of the night.
Just because grandpa or grandma has reached an impressive age of 97 does not mean that you should assume that “they’re doing great mentally . . . oh no, they would never do that doc!” The reality is that yes they would, given the opportunity, right setting and tools. Just as high blood pressure (hypertension) is known as the silent killer in physical health, so is depression in mental health.
The elderly depend on us just as how our children do so as well. We cannot leave anyone behind!
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)