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Seniors may suffer in Silence: Depression

Updated on October 27, 2013

Depression On The Rise in Seniors

Depression is on the rise around the United States for many seniors and is likely to increase throughout the winter months. Depression is not a normal part of aging, and studies show that most older people are satisfied with their lives, despite physical problems. Signs of depression in seniors and the elderly are typically different than the classic symptoms that may be seen in other generations.


Facts on Senior Depression

  • Patients with coronary heart disease at least one episode of major depression
  • Fifty percent of those with depression at the time of cardiac catheterization remain depressed a year after the procedure.
  • Sixty percent of seniors believe that depression is a myth or does not affect them.
  • Many types of medications can increase the risk of being affected by depression.
  • About 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.

Which is the more common cause of depression in seniors?

Which do you think is more likely to cause depression in seniors?

See results

There are many reasons for seniors to be depressed

Studies have shown that there are many reasons for seniors to be depressed but not the reasons you may typically think of as a cause. It is common for symptoms of depression to be missed by healthcare professions as it can present with other types of physical symptoms that can be difficult at times to separate from the patient’s other underlying diseases or disorders.


Signs of Depression in Seniors

  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • memory loss
  • chronic pain

So how is it diagnosed in seniors?

So how is it diagnosed in older individuals? Through a series of different assessment processes including interview, depression screening tools, laboratory testing and medication reviews. This is needed because many people of this generation view depression as a negative stigma and try to cope with the problem on their own or similarly do not even recognize their symptoms as they relate to depression. A National Mental Health Association survey reported,“Almost 60 percent of adults over the age of 65 surveyed believed that depression and age myth and thus did not view it as a health problem” (Kany, 2006, p. 4).The use of scales such as “The Geriatric Depression Scale” and the “Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia” help with diagnosis of individuals with depression. Furthermore, Improving Mood-Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment (IMPACT) Project is helping to identify those individuals with depression and as a collaborative approach meet the needs of the older population.

Medications that increase the risk of depression

Muscle Relaxants
This is not a complete list of medications that can contribute to the development of depression in seniors. For more information speak to your health care provider.

Additional Resources

There are many great resources available to you or your loved ones regarding depression. It may also be a great idea to join blogs that related to seniors and depression. For a more in-depth review of this article visit the for a discussion on this topic and others about seniors.


Alexopoulos, G. S. (2005). Depression in the elderly. The Lancet, 365 (9475), 1961-70. Retrieved from

Kany, K. (2006). A new look at the old – shades of gray: Depression and dispiritedness in late life. Trinity healthcare learning: EDA 424-0001.1-14.

Touhy, T., Jett, k. (2012). Ebersole & Hess’ towards health aging: Human needs & nursing responses (8thed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier

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    • VitalLifeSenior profile image

      James L. Constanzer, Owner | 4 years ago from Sarasota, Florida

      I agree. Also, they may just not even recognize the symptoms as related to "Depression" or concerned about the stigma that comes with a title of "depression." Many Seniors and others associate depression with, "they think I am crazy." Often, other illnesses they have are exacerbated by the effects of the depression. ~ James, RN and Owner of

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 4 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Most ,likely wished they had taken their health more seriously when they were younger.