Other things also contribute to depression: the winter blues, low self-esteem, being too passive and dependent on others, moving away from your family members, dissatisfaction with your lot in life. So you see, there are a great many things that can cause, trigger, or contribute to a depressed state of mind. If you know what the cause is you can deal with it a little better.
With health problems and the normal aging process, it is difficult to recognize depression in older people. Then, some older people just can’t seem to talk about their feelings or discuss the pain they feel. They will go to great lengths to hide it, putting up a facade of happiness when they are really very depressed.
These are some of the things to look for to recognize depression:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Waking up too early in the morning and not getting back to sleep
- Sleeping too long in the morning
- Nightmares or crazy dreams
- Loss of appetite
- Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, or indigestion
- Negative thinking, as if nothing matters anymore
- Loss of self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention when talking with someone
- Always feeling sad
- Tiredness all the time
- Mood swings
Emotions play a large part in physical complaints. When an older person cannot express their emotions, they manifest them in physical complaints. They may complain of headaches, shortness of breath or chest pains--nothing specific, but vague aches and pains. Of course, you want to check with the doctor about any complaints, but keep in mind the possibility that these complaints are connected with a depressed state of mind.
What can we do as caregivers to help our patient overcome this depression? We can use touch as a beginning. Everyone enjoys and needs human touch. We all need to feel loved and needed. A bit hug will go a long way toward helping our patient feel loved. The human body needs a gentle, caring touch often. It has been proven in studies that the lack of touch and warm support can lead to forgetfulness, confusion and dullness in the elderly. Remember that your touch, as a caregiver, can help your patient manage the depression they feel. Show affection by touching and hugs, show your acceptance and your love. It can reassure your patient and reduce those feelings of loneliness.
In some cases of depression, professional treatment is necessary. If your patient is depressed for ore than two weeks, they may need more help than you can give. If they have problems functioning in their daily routine, if their health is being threatened by the depression, or if they begin talking about dying, those are signs they may need professional help. Discuss this with their doctor and he will provide you with the names of professional that can help.
There are two ways to treat depression psychotherapy and medications. They are often used together.
Counseling with a psychiatrist or social worker is effective with patients who are moderately depressed. It can help elderly people adjust to their condition.
Drugs are effective with patients who are severely depressed. They can help to improve their appetite, help them to sleep, and ease the brain chemical balance causing the the depression. Your doctor may prescribe medication such as Elavil, Prozac, Zoloft, or one of many others. If these drugs are prescribed, be sure to watch out for side effect. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects for any of these drugs; they will give you a printout listing all of them.