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Recognizing the Signs of Geriatric Depression

Recognizing the Signs of Geriatric Depression


Recognizing the Signs of Geriatric Depression


Depression isn’t unusual among seniors. WebMD writes, “Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older.” Though the statistic is high, that doesn’t mean it is normal. What is normal is feeling good at any age.

If there is something more alarming than this figure, it is the fact that about 90 percent of the clinically depressed elderly are not getting any treatment for their emotional condition. The primary reason is failure to recognize their symptoms. To be a happy older adult and escape depression, it pays to seek professional help.


Sadness: Could It Be Geriatric Depression?

Getting old is no justification for depression or a sad life. Sure, you may tend to mellow or become less active after six, seven, or more decades of being alive. And sure, you may feel “blue” from time to time, but it should not be a pervasive feeling. If you live alone, it may not be an ideal situation, but even that isn’t enough to feel miserable, helpless, and hopeless for most days on end.

If your sadness is persistent and making you avoid people or have problems with eating and sleeping, it isn’t advisable to be complacent about it. You may be experiencing geriatric depression.


Facts to Know: What Is Geriatric Depression?

Are you or is your elderly parent suffering from depression? It isn’t easy to say. To be able to recognize it in the early stages for prompt diagnosis and treatment, it helps to understand these facts about depression.


  • What is geriatric depression? It is a form of clinical depression that affects the elderly. While feeling sad is normal for all people, young and old alike, it isn’t a normal condition that accompanies aging.
  • The subsyndromal type: Specifically, the elderly are likely to experience a type called “subsyndromal depression.” It doesn’t meet every criterion of depression listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The National Institute for Mental Health, however, reports that the majority of older adults with geriatric depression have this type.
  • The cause: As with depression in other age groups, there is no particular or single cause to which geriatric depression can be directly attributed. It can be related to genetic predisposition, introverted personality type, depressive psychosocial factors and life events, and failing health or the presence of chronic medical conditions.


  • low levels of key neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain (serotonin, norepinephrine)
  • a family history of depression
  • traumatic life events, such as abuse or the death of a loved one


  • Complications associated with aging: Healthline also says that there are other factors associated with aging that may contribute to the risk of depression, including “limited mobility, isolation, facing mortality, transitioning from work to retirement, financial hardships, prolonged substance abuse, deaths of friends and loved ones, widowhood or divorce, and chronic medical conditions.”


Handling the Challenge: Recognizing the Symptoms

Why is recognizing depression symptoms among seniors challenging? According to Help Guide, depression is often overlooked in seniors because many think that getting sad is a normal part of aging or don’t know that physical pain can actually be a sign of depression. In addition, geriatric depression can be “sneaky”: WebMD says “It is frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses and the medicines used to treat them.”

If you live alone, no one else may notice the change. You may also feel insignificant. It is common for elderly people who don’t want to be the center of attention to avoid talking about their sadness or seeking help. However, if you want your depression to be treated, professional help is vital.


Getting Older Happily

Aging has many challenges, aside from geriatric depression. If the threat of chronic medical conditions and the difficulties of life transitions such as empty nest syndrome and retirement aren’t challenging enough, think of the complications that depression can bring. You can change that outlook with your decision to seek professional assistance from an independent, experienced therapist contracted with Carolina Counseling Services — Pinehurst, NC.

If you have an elderly loved one, know that you can have a profound effect by encouraging them to seek treatment and actively participate to feel better. Indeed, family members can be undeniably helpful. If you’re an elderly person without supportive people in your life, a contracted therapist with CCS can support you during this critical time.

You and your loved ones deserve happy and rewarding “twilight years” without the burden of depression. Let Carolina Counseling Services — Pinehurst, NC, lead you there.


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

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Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

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Fayetteville, NC 28311