Depression and Anxiety in Seniors: Underdiagnosed and Undertreated

Depression: Not a normal part of aging states the National Institute of Health research. The research goes on to say that depression often co-occurs with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Because many older adults face these illnesses as well as various social and economic difficulties, health care professionals may mistakenly conclude that depression is a normal consequence of these problems which is an attitude often shared by patients themselves. These factors contribute to the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of depressive disorders in older people. Depression can and should be treated when it co-occurs with other illnesses, for untreated depression can delay recovery from or worsen the outcome of these other illnesses.

Dysthemic disorder: This is a chronic, low level depression that could be described as a mild to moderate level of sadness with a duration of 2 years or more. Research says that as many as 1.5% of US adults suffer from this disorder.

Major depressive disorder: This is a profound emotional disturbance marked by an overwhelming sadness that can disrupt concentration, sleep, appetite, energy, attitude and/or loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed. Clinical depression, a major depressive disorder diagnosed by a mental health professional, is a complicating factor in disease causing over 500,000 deaths annually, including suicides.

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