Depression is a very complex thing, and as anyone who has ever had a family member suffer from this, or has suffered from it themselves, knows that it is also one of the hardest medical conditions to treat. What’s also very concerning is the fact that many elderly individuals suffer from depression and do nothing to try to alleviate the symptoms of it. This is very troublesome because one of the easiest ways to treat depression is through talking about their struggles in counseling. The person providing the counseling cannot have these conversations if no one knows that they are suffering. Openness about depression and other mental illnesses has improved, but in the senior population, context changes like this happen at a much slower pace. Talking about depression with your parents can help change this in a small, but very beneficial, way.
There is a large stigma in our culture today when it comes to talking about depression and mental illness. However, it is one of the leading causes of death in the millennial population today, and in the elderly population, it can lead to things like disability, dementia, and early mortality. We can avoid a lot of this just by opening up about it with the people that we love and letting them know that there is hope. It’s often not easy for people to talk about this, so if you do approach the topic be sure that you are kind, gentle, and very patient with them. Sometimes just knowing that they are not suffering by themselves is sufficient for getting the ball rolling toward effective treatment.
If you have questions about depression, please get in touch with a doctor so that they can let you know what the best course of action is for your family’s specific situation.
Scientists today understand the physical side of depression better than ever before. The most recent research indicates that depression impacts the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. This is the portion of the brain that is associated with non-rewards, which explains the feeling of despair and hopelessness that is often the main characteristic of depression. Because this portion of the brain is negatively impacted, those suffering from severe clinical depression often feel like there is no point in doing anything, or even for seeking treatment. It leads to thoughts of loss and a sharp decline in self-esteem.
Treatments for those with depression–even elderly folk suffering from this–have come a very long way. However, doctors still recommend three main course of action: counseling, medication, and exercise. All three of these are tough to do if the presence of the disease is not acknowledged. Having a safe place where your mom or dad can talk to someone–whether it be you, another family member, an in-home care professional, or a doctor–can help lead to a better diagnosis of this, and thus a better course of treatment. Helping those in our life who might be suffering from some sort of mental illness today will lead to a much higher quality of life down the road. It helps them to stay healthy physically and get more enjoyment out of things, too.