Last updated: Apr 14, 2008
Depression is persistent and interferes with a person's ability to function in daily life. It robs people of their peace of mind and their enjoyment of simple pleasures; makes them feel worthless, unlovable, and irritable; and can contribute to early death.
Depression hits the elderly hardest
Suicide is the most feared complication, and it hits older adults harder than any other age group. In 2004, people aged 65 years and older accounted for 16% of all suicide deaths in the United States even though they comprised only 12% of the population.
"Depression gets missed in geriatric populations for several reasons," says Kenneth Robbins, MD, a psychiatrist who runs a geriatric inpatient unit in Stoughton, Wis. "The assumption is that because people are older and they've had a lot of losses, 'How could they not feel depressed?' And so, they don't treat a major depression that would be easily treatable."
There's another side of depression in the elderly. Sometimes it's a continuation of a problem that existed when a person was younger. Aging doesn't cure depression, and time definitely doesn't heal all wounds.