Geriatric Depression

Common Among Older Adults and the Elderly

If you read through the depression statistics then you know that Geriatric Depression is common in older adults. In fact, older adults are 5 times more likely to suffer from depressive disorders than younger adults.

Older adults exprience so many things that can lead to geriatric depression such as medical issues, grief from the death of a spouse, and other life changing events such as retirement. All of these things can lead to elderly depressive disorders.

So What are the Symptoms of Depression?

  • Dissatisfied with life
  • Increased levels of irritability
  • Fixation on death - taking a "waiting to die" attitude or suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of hope for their future
  • Withdrawing from social opportunities with family and friends
  • Unusual weight gain or weight loss
  • Low sense of self-worth
  • Feeling of being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other substances
  • Experiencing insomnia or wanting to sleep all the time

    Causes of Depression

    There are many causes of depressive disorders, with some of them specific to the elderly because of unique things they go through during this time of their lives. In fact, there is even a unique test called the Geriatric Depression Scale that was designed with the elderly in mind. Some of what causes depressive disorders in older adults includes:

  • Medical issues such as a disability, chronic pain or difficulty with thinking, making decisions and memory
  • Medications - this should be reviewed with your doctor as some medications to treat these medical issues can be the cause of depression
  • Loneliness - this is common as you may have experienced the death of a friends, spouse, children, you are living alone, and/or you may be isolated because you have lost your driving priveledges.
  • No sense of purpose - this can happen when you retire and no longer have a place to go, things you have to do. This can be a very difficult transition
  • Stress over financial issues, medical concerns, relationship issues

    Geriatric Depression or Dementia?

    It can be very difficult to distinguish between geriatric depression and dementia. In fact, they often come hand in hand. However, there are a few minor differences that may help you to distinguish one from the other.

    With a depressive disorder, you are more likely to have difficulty concentrating, but you still remember things, and you have full awareness of where you are, who you are with and so on. Conversely, with dementia, you'd have evidence of short term memory loss and periods of disorientation.

    In depressive disorders, you still possess all of your motor skills and you have object recognition. With dementia, you may have difficulty using simple things like a tooth brush or pen, and you may not be able to call objects by their name, such as "tooth brush".

    Finally, with depression you tend to be withdrawn and sad. Whereas with dementia, you would be more irritable and anxious.


    As with other types of depression, there are many different ways to treatments for depression. There are, of course, depression medications and counseling such as support groups, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. I would highly recommend that you seriously consider both avenues of treatment. However, there are also other ways that you can help yourself. They include the follwing:

  • Get out of the house - take a stroll down the street, go sit in a park, socialize with neighbors. Try not to isolate yourself from the outside world

  • Hobbies - take up an old hobby or, better yet, start a new one. This gives you something to look forward to and allows you to do something that you enjoy

  • Find humor in life - read funny stories, go to comedy shows, tell jokes, find ways to laugh at yourself so you don't take yourself so seriously

  • Eat right and exercise - eat foods that feed your soul and keep you healthy. And, find ways to get your blood pumping by taking a walk, lifting light weights, do some situps...just get moving!

  • Volunteer - work with non-profits so you can focus on helping others and avoid worrying about yourself. Giving to others can make you feel like you are really making a solid contribution in the you that sense of purpose again.

    Geriatric Depression to Depression Test Home Page
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