Mental Health Awareness Month was originally celebrated in 1949. That was 73 years ago! The goals of the sponsoring organization, originally the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (now Mental Health America), were to improve attitudes toward mental health/illness, improve services for mental health clients, and promote mental health.
Older adults are more at risk for depression due to several reasons. Factors such as a new medical diagnosis, stress, and sleep problems can all increase the risk of depression. Older adults with a family history of depression may be at higher risk. Social isolation and loneliness can also increase depression. Many older adults have physical limitations making activities of daily living and exercising more difficult.
Depression in older adults may be more difficult to recognize. They may exhibit the common symptoms of hopelessness, guilt, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or sleeping, as well as suicidal thoughts. Older adults may also have a feeling of numbness or lack of interest in activities they once found pleasure in, and they may not be willing to talk about their feelings. Cultural background can also be a factor in the way they express their emotions.
Mental health is just as important as physical health in the older adult. Depression can increase the risk of physical problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Depression can also lead to death by suicide. Research has shown that early intervention with those suffering from depression is highly effective at reducing the chances of suicide.
At Cedar Trails Senior Living Freeburg, IL we understand depression is a treatable condition like diabetes or hypertension. Don’t settle for being depressed at any age! It is not a normal part of getting older. A primary care physician or mental health specialist can address chronic feelings of sadness.