Depression is increasingly an issue that seniors face in Clarkston and surrounding areas. There are many reasons that seniors might be facing depression in their ‘golden years’. From The Guardian:
Nearly half of all adults surveyed for AgeUK say they have experienced depression or anxiety, but many feel they have to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on rather than seek help. There has been some great work in raising awareness and tackling the stigma of mental health problems, spearheaded by the glamorous young royals, but it tends to be aimed at young people, with little or no emphasis on elderly people. For them it’s a triple whammy: they are less likely to seek help, GPs may not recognise the signs, and society may expect depression to be a natural consequence of ageing, loss and loneliness.
NHS England is encouraging GPs to look out for mental health problems in older patients, and offer interventions – talking therapies or medication – as appropriate. But is it true that depression is an inevitable part of ageing? Is the older generation more stoical? Are the young more flaky? And how can you tell if you have depression yourself, or if an older friend or relative is suffering unnecessarily?
It is true that older people may have to put up with bereavement, pain, financial concerns, loneliness and ill health – and all of those can trigger depression and anxiety if you’re susceptible. But it’s not inevitable; people in the UK report being at their happiest between the ages of 65-79 (though happiness levels plummet after the age of 90). In the AgeUK survey, 21% of the people who reported suffering from anxiety or depression said their symptoms had worsened with time – but that left nearly 80% who didn’t feel their mental health had worsened.
Looking at suicide rates – arguably the most extreme expression of unbearable mental distress – the group at greatest risk are men aged 40 to 44. People are less likely to take their own life in their 60s than in their 30s but, of course, every suicide can be seen as a potentially preventable tragedy and there is no room for complacency at any age. The need to identify those individuals at any age who are most at risk and in need of expert intervention, is a priority for all healthcare professionals.
Mental health problems can be tricky – it is hard to know if a relative or elderly friend is sinking gradually into severe depression, or becoming paralysed by debilitating anxiety. It’s even hard to know yourself: when does feeling fed up, sad and a bit socially isolated tip into depression? When does fretting about grandkids, money and the state of the world become unmanageable anxiety? And even with all the training, time and sensitivity in the world, any GP can miss the signs if a person is determined to present a positive front.