Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem, but is often not recognized or treated.
See: Depression - major for more information about the causes of depression.
In the elderly, a number of life changes can increase the risk for depression, or make existing depression worse. Some of these changes are:
Elderly people often use alcohol to self-treat depression, but this may make symptoms worse.
Depression can be a sign of a physical illness. It can be a psychological reaction to the illness, or directly caused by the physical illness.
Many older people will not admit to feeling depressed, for fear that they will be seen as "weak" or "crazy." Some older people will not report their depression because they believe that feeling sad is "normal," or that nothing can be done about it.
Cassano P, Fava M. Mood disorders: major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2008:chap 29.
Unutzer J. Clinical practice: late-life depression. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:2269-2276.
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