In seniors, depression may be concealed among symptoms of other illnesses. That’s why it often goes undetected, worsening the impact of chronic conditions and depriving life of contentment. Unfortunately, depression also increases the risk of suicide. Between ages 80 and 84, people commit suicide at more than twice the rate of the population at large.
Diagnosis of Geriatric Depression
Treatments for depression have improved enormously in recent decades and, in particular a lessening of the side effects of medications
Before considering specific treatments, your doctor must distinguish between two very different types of depression.
Below, we focus chiefly on unipolar or ordinary depression
Antidepressant Medications: These can be effective but proceed with caution. The elderly metabolize drugs much different than younger folks. In this day and age when elderly drug addiction is a real problem, please only use antidepressant under the strict supervision of your doctor
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are often the first choice of doctors because they have fewer serious side effects than other categories of antidepressants.
Tricyclic Antidepressants: One of the oldest antidepressants on the market, the tricyclics can be highly effective. However, their potency tends to cause more severe side effects than newer antidepressants.
Other Medications: Other medications may be prescribed to boost the efficacy of your antidepressant. For example, your doctor may recommend a combination of two antidepressants. Other additions may include a mood-stabilizer or antipsychotic. Because geriatic depression may manifest itself in sleep disorders, your doctor may also prescribe medications for insomnia.
Although treatment for depression can prolong our lives, reduce the impact of other conditions, and lessen the risk of death, the highly personal and rewarding outcome of effective treatment is a revival of our ability to enjoy life.
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