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Depression knows no age limit

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Life is full of changes, and as a person ages, often changes occur more frequently and may be more difficult to face.

This can lead to depression.

Though there is no one cause for depression, a sense of loss may be the greatest cause.

Loss is common in the older adult population: loss of independence, loss of friends and family, loss of income.

But this sense of loss isn’t the only cause of depression.

Depression is also sometimes caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

Some cases of depression seem to have no explanation.

Depression isn’t all that uncommon either, especially among older adults.

Experts estimate that about 25 percent of adults over age 65 have one or more symptoms of depression.

Some of these symptoms are:

-Feelings of emptiness or continuing sadness;

-Lack of energy;

-Loss of pleasure in daily routine;

-Social isolation;

-Changes in sleep patterns;

-Changes in appetite;

-Uncontrollable crying;

-Difficulty in focusing or making decisions; and

-Thoughts of death or suicide.

Even though these symptoms are common, keep in mind that different people express depression in different ways.

Depression may even be able to hide behind a smiling face.

Whatever the cause, and whatever the symptoms, the thing to remember that depression is mostly treatable with therapy, medications, or both.

The first step is to admit there is a problem.

Only then will you or your loved one be able to seek the treatment needed.

Treatments may include support group therapy-which may be available at low or no cost-or one-on-one counseling.

Your health provider will be able to determine if medication is needed.

Medicare or personal health insurance may help cover the cost of these treatments.

To help stop depression before it starts:

-Prepare for anticipated major life-changing events such as retirement or moving to a new home.

-Maintaining established friendships while making new ones.

Interaction with others is one of the most effective ways to keep depression from affecting your life.

-Maintaining old hobbies and developing new ones.

These on-going interests help keep the mind sharp.

-Keeping physically fit and eating a balanced diet.

The best recommendation is to stay active: physically, mentally and socially. Do not stretch yourself too thin in the process.

You will know when you have taken on too much.

For more information, visit the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation’s depression consumer/patient information page at http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/depression.html or contact Rita M. Hodges, County Extension Agent-Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 701 South I-35 E, Waxahachie or call 972-825-5175 or e-mail: rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu

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