Depression is a very serious condition and mood disorder that should not be confused with sadness or loneliness. Everyone feels sad sometimes. A person may experience grief after the death of a spouse or other family member, but in time they get over these feelings and life goes on. Depression, however, does not usually go away by itself, but needs professional intervention and treatment. Depression can take over a person’s life, so that they cannot function at work. The person with depression may lose all interest in food, have problems sleeping and can even lose the will to live. They may also cry a lot.
Depression Mistakenly Considered a Sign of Aging
Often the signs of depression are considered just to be a sign of aging and so professional help is not made available. In fact, people with depression are sometimes thought to be suffering from dementia. However, it is possible for a person to have both dementia and depression. People with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have a very high suicide rate. Depression is often found in Parkinson’s patients. Diabetics can also show signs of depression, especially if their glucose is not under control.
Medical Drugs can Sometimes Lead to Depression
Some medical drugs can have depression as a side effect. You should always consult your doctor about the possibility that some of the prescribed medicines for your loved one may be able to trigger depression. In fact, package labeling sometimes contains a warning that the medicine can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts and depression. Of course medicines do not affect everyone exactly the same way and some people never have these kinds of side effects. However, you should be alert to see if symptoms of depression set in after your loved one was started on a new medicine. Believe it or not, even medicines used to treat depression can carry these kinds of warnings to be on the lookout for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.
A study published June 12, 2018 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) discovered that many medicines that are commonly prescribed to the general population have the potential to cause depression, especially if people are using three or more of these kinds of medicines.
If you think that your loved one may be depressed, you should seek immediate help, especially if they are talking about ending their lives. Take them to an emergency room at a hospital.
Suicide Prevention Hotline
There is also a suicide prevention hotline that operates 24/7. Call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).
If the cause of the depression is found to be a side effect from a medical drug, the depression will usually clear up if the drug is discontinued. However, most cases of depression will need to be treated with anti-depressant drugs. These usually take a few weeks to work, so a person must be watched carefully to make sure they will not do anything to try to harm themselves until the drug starts working. Lock up all fire arms and dangerous knives, razor blades and other objects that can be used for self-harm. Also, hide pesticides, bleach, toxic chemicals and cleaning agents. Do not leave medicines, pills lying around, but only bring out the medicine when it is time for your loved one to take it. It does not take long for a person to overdose themselves.
Anti-depressant Medicines are often Taken over a Long Period of Time
Anti-depressant medicines are often taken over a long period of time. No one should stop them suddenly on their own. Decisions about changing dosages, changing medicines or stopping them should all be made together with a doctor or psychiatrist. Usually, a doctor will gradually wean someone off of anti-depressant medicines.
Hospitalization and Rehabilitation
Sometimes a senior will need to go to a hospital to be treated for depression, especially if they also have other multiple health problems. From the hospital, they may be sent to a short-term rehab or a long-term skilled nursing facility if they are suffering from dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
Depression and Vitamin D
See our blog post from December 11, 2018 about insufficient Vitamin D and depression.
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse New York offers both short-term rehabilitation and long-term skilled nursing care. For people with dementia they offer memory care. Van Duyn also has a wonderful program of recreational activities to promote socialization and to help draw out someone who may be sitting in a corner.
If you are not sure whether or not your loved one is showing signs of depression, get immediate medical and professional help to get the right diagnosis. Be sure to let the doctor know about any new medicines your loved one may be taking.