What is Depression?

Depression is a condition that can result from a mental illness or as a symptom of another condition.

There are differing types of depression as well, including the three most common: major depression, minor depression, and persistent depressive disorder, also referred to as dysthymia. Depression persists over extended periods.

Depression in elderly adults can have numerous physical and psychological symptoms, rather than the persistent sad or empty feeling that most other people feel when depressed. Depression can cause self-harm or suicidal behaviors. It’s essential to reach out to your practitioner with any questions about depression and the treatments that are best for you and your family.

Depression Symptoms

Depression is often characterized by the symptoms of a persistent sadness or apathy, but depression in older adults affects the mind — and the body — in several distinct ways.

The most common symptoms are psychological in nature:

  •  Feelings of anxiety or pessimism
  •  Overwhelming guilt or hopelessness
  •  Impeded concentration
  •  Memory loss
  •  Increased thoughts of suicide
  •  Irritability, agitation

This depression in older adults can also present as physical symptoms:

  •  Fatigue, listlessness
  •  Abnormal sleep habits, such as sleeplessness or oversleeping
  •  Appetite changes; unintentional weight fluctuation
  •  Digestive issues, pains, or other aches that have no apparent cause and don’t alleviate with medication.

Because this depression can appear as a symptom of other conditions, it’s equally important to recognize the causes of depression and how to pursue treatment for each individual case.

How We Treat It Depression

At Gagne Behavioral Health Care, we understand that depression requires a nuanced and individualized approach. Although depression is different for every patient, we take the time and effort to find the source of the depression and to treat that source.

One of the most common forms of treatment are medications known as antidepressants. The use of antidepressants may take time in some patients. A combination of talk therapy and medication has been found to be the preferred intervention.

However, not all depression in seniors should be treated with these drugs. For some seniors, a antidepressants can have adverse effects, especially on people over 65. We work to determine the best interventions for that patient and their family.

We can also discuss treating depression with CBD. For seniors, CBD may be a more viable option if their system can not tolerate antidepressant medication.


What are common risk factors for depression?

Depression is most often diagnosed in early adulthood, but the onset of depression in elderly adults also occurs in accordance with some high-risk factors. A few of the most common risk factors are as follows:

  •  Sedentary lifestyle
  •  Females are at higher risk
  •  Certain medications
  •  Chronic illnesses (diabetes, cancer, heart disease)
  •  Disabilities
  •  Brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease
  •  Disturbed or irregular sleep
  •  Repeated stress or high-stress events
  •  Social ineptitude, lack of social stimulation
  •  Alcohol/drug abuse

If someone feels as though experiencing the symptoms described over a period of several weeks, it may be time to consult a psychiatric specialist to learn whether the feelings may be due to depression.

Can depression be cured?

Depression is a complex issue that can come from many root causes, and some of these conditions can be treated, including depression itself. While some people experience depression only a handful of times, there are others that experience it as a chronic mental illness, and have to treat and manage it all their lives.

More natural therapies such as treating depression with CBD or St. John’s Wort can be discussed with health care professionals for patients who wish to explore other treatments for depression.

As such, it’s important for the treatment of depression to be individualized. Some depressions cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed enough to improve a patient’s quality of life.

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