One of the most under-recognized health conditions is depression in seniors and the elderly. We spend so much time worrying about heart problems, stroke, and cancer that we overlook mental health. Theres’ a lot more to think about than memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
So many of us are understandably conservative with our financial resources, and defer our big plans to see the world until we are retired. Unfortunately, health events may intervene and prevent us from ever taking that big trip .It’s just becomes too taxing or too far from the doctors we trust, to be gone for long stretches of time.
It is not always our physical health that is the limiting factor, but mental health. I recognize that many seniors see this as an uncomfortable area of medicine to discuss. However, the fact is that millions of Americans receive medication and/or counseling for depression, and the treatments work. Certainly, depression can follow treatment for a serious illness or the loss of a loved one. Sadly, many seniors never seek treatment for it, and their doctors may not recognize the signs. Often times, lethargy is chalked up to old age. When in fact, the real factor for the slow down could be caused by depression. Depression is a real illness that can steal your dreams of vibrant senior years, and today’s treatments can often give you that vibrant life back.
A common symptom of depression is anxiety. When we see someone who is edgy and irritable we may think they are just getting set in their ways, but is it something else? Again, treatments are available that really can help.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if you’d beaten back cancer, recovered from a stroke, or survived a heart attack, and then couldn’t enjoy life because life just didn’t feel like living? Too many people are in that boat. So heres my advice: consider making an appointment with your doctor and asking about a mental health evaluation. It will not only measure just how sharp your memory is, but whether anxiety or depression could be affecting you. Some doctors can give you a simple questionnaire to fill out to see if further examination is necessary.
The point is, put this on your health radar and if there are indications something may be amiss, get treatment. You and your relationships with loved ones deserve it.
For more on this topic visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org