Why Are Older Adults More Vulnerable to Depression?

Although depression is not a normal part of aging, more older adults are being diagnosed with depression each year. The suicide rate is also highest among older adults. The good news is that the condition is highly treatable; the earlier it is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. There are several reasons why older adults may be more vulnerable to depression. They are:

Prolonged Stress

Older adults may have faced prolonged stressful situations, such as the death of a spouse or close friend, financial difficulties, and chronic health issues. This prolonged stress can lead to depression. Addressing the underlying issues will alleviate depression. 

Note that depression in men is a massive concern as the suicide rate is often higher than in females. If you have any concerns, seek help. Also, let the older people in your life know it’s ok to ask for support.

Reduced Social Interaction

As you age, social interactions reduce. It could be due to retirement, health issues, or the death of friends and family members. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and a lack of support, contributing to an increased risk for depression. 

Also, if you spend most of your life working and that job is no longer available, or you retire, your sense of purpose diminishes. You no longer have the means to contribute and feel like a valued member of society. Adjustment can be difficult if you do not have workmates to share your day-to-day events.

To avoid loneliness, check if your interaction with others is reducing. Are you avoiding people or phone calls? If so, try to make new connections. Reach out and spend time with your family and close friends.

Medication Side Effects

As people age, they are likely to take more medications than younger individuals. Unfortunately, some of these medications have side effects that lead to depression. The most commonly prescribed drugs that cause depression as a side effect are steroids, high blood pressure medications, and benzodiazepines. If you are taking any of these medications and feel depressed, talk to your doctor. They may recommend an alternative medication or a different dosage.

Physical Changes

As you age, you may experience physical changes that contribute to depression. These changes can range from hearing and vision loss to chronic pain or fatigue. You may also have difficulty sleeping due to physical aches or anxiety. A sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to depression. You’ll improve your mood and reduce the risk by participating in physical activities and exercise.

Biological Changes

The body undergoes many changes as you age, which may increase the risk of depression. For example, the levels of the hormones serotonin and noradrenaline decline as you age, contributing to depression. Additionally, medical conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes may lead to depression. Monitor your health and seek medical advice to reduce the risk.

It’s a Serious Issue but Treatable

Depression is a serious issue that affects many older adults. However, it is treatable. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, seek help as soon as possible. There are a variety of treatments available that can make a positive difference in your life. Additionally, as family members to an older adult, check in and provide support. Help them stay active, connected, and involved in their community. With enough support, your loved one can still live a happy life.