Symptoms of Depression in Older Adults

Depression is a persistent feeling of emotional loss and sadness, which often stops you from performing your usual daily activities. Different kinds of depression exist, including mild to severe, with varying symptoms. In general, depression doesn’t result from any single incident, but from a combination of several events and triggers. This article focuses on two common but distressing forms of depression: depressive disorder and dysthymia. If you or someone you know is suffering from one or the other of these conditions, it’s important to understand their characteristics and what to do if you or a loved one needs help.

 

 The symptoms of dysthymia

Dysthymia (or clinical depression) is characterized by persistent depressive moods lasting for about two months. As its name suggests, this kind of depression results from long-term feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, and dissatisfaction, often coupled with negative thoughts and actions. The diagnosis of dysthymia often comes with an MRI test that would confirm the existence of brain imbalance in the area of the brain responsible for emotions, such as moods, feelings, and emotions. The symptoms of dysthymia typically last for about three years.

 

Clinical depression

also known as major depression, occurs in older adults and can be a long-term illness. Some symptoms of clinical depression are insomnia, fatigue, social withdrawal, loss of appetite or weight, increased levels of sadness and thoughts of death, increased thoughts of suicide, decreased interest in hobbies or other activities, and thoughts of harming yourself or others. This disorder is much more common than you may think and when left untreated can last up to five years.

 

A chemical imbalance

Neurotransmitters control mood and behavior. They are chemical messengers sent from the brain to nerve cells throughout the body. When certain neurotransmitters are missing or altered, messages cannot be relayed from the brain and messages cannot get from a nerve cell to a muscle cell. A chemical imbalance in the brain can be the cause of mood disorders, including depression. Several neurotransmitters are affected by depression, including the following: Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine.

 

Anhedonia refers to a lack of pleasure

Most people experience mild anhedonia during periods when they are happy, however, a small number of people experience severe anhedonia during times of severe depression. Mild anhedonia usually lasts for several weeks. When severe anhedonia sets in, it can severely affect a person’s quality of life, and even lead to malnutrition. Symptoms of a mild form of depression usually manifest during the course of two weeks to a month, while a more severe form of depression can last two to four months.

 

chronic illnesses

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of depression in older adults. These include chronic illnesses, a history of abuse or neglect, obesity, poor diet, low self-esteem, sleep disorders, and circadian rhythms. Depression can have many causes, and the symptoms can also start early in life. Although the majority of people who suffer from depression do so because of something in their lives, some people have no known medical or psychological reasons for depression.

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