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DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY – LATE LIFE DEPRESSION (LLD)  

Depression in the elderly is referred to by the medical field as Late Life Depression. However, it is called many things including geriatric depression, old age depression and elderly depression. Late Life Depression, or LLD, refers to severe depression that is first experienced at a mature age, 60+. In elderly patients, a depressive episode is often not identified as LLD but rather the side effects become the focus. Under-recognized and under-treated depression in the elderly is slowly gaining attention.

Signs of depression in elderly people include sadness, lack of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, low self esteem, loss of interest or pleasure in activities. These symptoms are persistent and interrupt the life of the older adult. Depression in older adults can also take the form of memory loss which can make it difficult to diagnose. Intense feelings of uselessness or hopelessness or excessive worry that they are a burden to their loved ones are common signs of depression in later life. Often elderly people are more reluctant to seek care.

DEPRESSION IS NOT PART OF AGING

There are several diseases or chronic conditions that are sometimes coupled with LLD including stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s  and heart disease. These comorbid conditions can obscure LLD making a diagnosis difficult. In addition, depression can make all of these conditions more difficult to bear for the sufferer and more difficult to watch for the loved ones. However, depression can be treated even if the comorbid disease cannot be, enabling the patient to lead a fuller life if the depression is addressed.

Depression in older adults is often dismissed as a normal part of aging. This is simply not the case. At no point in a person’s life is a major depressive episode a normal emotional experience. If you or a loved one may be suffering from LLD, please feel free to call us for a consultation or take our self assessment. There are treatment options that can help.

The International Review of Psychiatry discusses TMS as a treatment of late-life depression. Click here to read more.

NARSAD details LLD and how TMS could be helpful for LLD. To learn more click here.

Science Daily features an article on genetic risk markers for late-life depression. To read more click here.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs details late life depression and and veteran depression. To learn more click here.

Psychiatric Times discusses depression in the elderly both in symptoms and treatment including non-pharmacological therapies. To read more click here.