Recent statistics detailed in news programs and articles indicate that one out of every ten Americans is taking antidepressants to fight depression!

That's amazing when you think about how we live in a relatively rich country. We should be the happiest people on earth.

Among so many retirees, especially those who have lost their spouse, it's that feeling of being alone that can lead to depression. It's the most common of all mental illnesses and antidepressants are the most widely used medication. Many cases still go undiagnosed and untreated, especially among older people. 

Some research suggests that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.  A person may have a predisposition to it if it runs in families and there is also evidence that traumas, certain illnesses, and childhood abuse can actually lead to depression later on in life.

A person has to have hope and a belief that they are going to get better in order to treat this illness. There is no objective test for depression like there is for elevated blood pressure except to ask a person how they are feeling. There is no question that serious depression can ruin people's lives and destroy families. How do we know if someone in our family is depressed, and what are the signs?

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Sadness and melancholy
  • Loss of pleasure and enjoyment in the things you used to do
  • A feeling of worthlessness and uselessness
  • A kind of blank feeling
  • A change in one's sense of self
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • A variety of physical complaints
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Unable to manage small daily tasks

When an older person makes a statement like, "If God just took me now, I wouldn't mind," that can be a more passive form of depression. This is not a normal part of aging and many times can be the result of being diagnosed with a severe illness such as a stroke or Parkinson's disease.

The fact that you will never again be that vital, healthy person you once were and that everything in your life has changed in an instant can be devastating. Families also need to keep watch caregivers, who spend every hour of the day taking care of an invalid spouse.

Studies have shown that depression slows the recovery from a heart attack or hip or knee replacement surgery. Depressed diabetics tend to have blood sugars that are not well-controlled. It can also aggravate symptoms of memory loss and dementia.

If the depression is so severe that even managing money, putting meals together, going to church, or  completing the basic activities of life are affected, it is time to see a doctor. A doctor can recommend the best treatment options and it is important that people do not self diagnose.

Having a professional to talk with can be tremendously healing. Psychotherapy takes many forms, from addressing relationship problems that may be causing distress to practicing techniques to counter negative thoughts.

The most important message to give is that people do get better. Depression may feel hopeless, but it isn't.  With the holidays fast approaching, depression can often hit hard and fast.  I hope this post makes everyone more aware.

 Related Posts:

Then Depression Set In

 If I Only Had a Crystal Ball

Remaining Positive in Turbulant Times 

Linda Reese

Linda is a contributing writer for the Retired & Loving it blog. Linda is retired, married, and enjoying her retirement in a retirement community in Florida. She shares her experiences with others who are facing retirement or already there with posts on living on a fixed income, budgeting, and healthcare issues. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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