They say that with age comes wisdom, and for some, that may be true. But with age also comes some very big challenges. In addition to dealing with the onset of disease and physical disabilities, older people must face loss: the loss of a spouse, loss of friends, loss of siblings, and even the loss of memories.
“Getting old is not for sissies.” – Bette Davis
When you consider all of this loss, it’s not surprising that aging and depression often go hand-in-hand. While feeling sadness over these losses is a normal part of life, some people experience profound depression.
But, if earlier in your life you never really experienced depression, how do you know the difference between it and sadness? Here are some signs of depression:
- Trouble sleeping (either falling asleep, staying asleep or both)
- A change in appetite
- Sudden mood swings (such as irritability and anger)
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
At some time in our lives, most of us have experienced one or two of these symptoms. But when you experience more than one or two at a time, and these feelings linger and deepen, that is a clear indicator of depression.
Beating Depression Will Require Trust
When someone who has faced so much loss becomes depressed, what can they do to feel better? The answer to that question is to seek the help of a therapist who can help you navigate your emotions, offer tools for mood management and even prescribe medications if they feel it will help.
But there lies the conundrum.
Those suffering from depression often feel helpless, that is to say, they feel they are beyond being helped. When a person feels that no one and nothing can help them, they will not seek help and refuse it when it is offered. In fact, some depressed people even become angered when loved ones try to help.
This is when trust becomes a vital component to getting well. Older people have spent a lifetime forming relationships with family and friends. They know the connection and love is genuine. Therefor they must trust that when a loved one comes to them and says, “I love you and I’m concerned. I think you’re depressed and you need some help…” they recognize they are coming from a loving place and trust they want what’s best for them.
If you yourself have tried to help an older loved one but they refuse to listen, consider having someone else they might trust even more speak with them. This could be an old colleague, their doctor, or your local pastor. And sometimes you may just have to get a group together and have an intervention.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, you can feel better. You can remember that life is worth living, even while feeling so much pain and sorrow. If you would like to explore treatment options, please contact me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may help.