In a previous blog, we discussed how depression can affect the elderly. Today, we’re examining the various treatment options that are available for this condition.

Overall, depression impacts older adults differently than younger people. In fact, depression nearly doubles an elderly person’s risk of cardiac disease and can increase the risk of death from illness.

It’s for this reason that treatment is imperative for your loved one if you’re concerned that he or she is suffering from depression.

Before a person can be treated for depression, a diagnosis is needed. Unfortunately, proper diagnosis and treatment of depression in the elderly can be difficult. Symptoms, mood, behavior and day-to-day actions will be assessed by a mental health expert. This person will ask the patient the following:

  • How long have these feelings of depression persisted?
  • What’s causing these feelings?
  • Have you ever experienced depression in the past?

Usually it takes about two weeks of persistent symptoms for a diagnosis to be made.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all cause of depression, and the same applies to the treatment options. Developing the right treatment plan often takes trial and error as well as time.

Treatment plans for depression depends on the severity of the case. For some, psychotherapy is an option, while others require antidepressants. Often times, however, a combination of medication and therapy, as well as lifestyle changes, yield the best results.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Getting adequate amounts of rest
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Finding a new hobby or interest
  • Increasing amounts of physical activity
  • Regularly visiting with friends and family

Medications can also be used to treat symptoms of depression. These medications include:

  • Bupropion (Ex: Wellbutrin)
  • Mirtazapine (Ex: Remeron)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Furthermore, therapy is also a viable treatment option for those suffering from depression. In many cases, meeting with a trained mental health professional for “talk therapy” proves to be beneficial to pinpoint the causes of depression and help the patient learn how to positively handle these emotions.

If you’d like to learn more about the warning signs of depression in the elderly and the viable treatment options, contact your primary care physician.

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression and contemplating suicide or self-harm, contact a physician or emergency room immediately.

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