Fatigue and Depression in the Elderly

Fatigue and depression are symptoms which are often noticed in the elderly. Fatigue in the elderly can be caused because of multiple reasons and is often indicative of some fundamental psychiatric or medical illness like heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease or any number of other medical conditions. But very often fatigue cannot be ascribed to any particular cause and might be a syndrome which stems from all the activities associated with daily living.

Depression however is a medical condition that is more widespread in the elderly. However, unlike what many believe, depression is not a normal part of the aging process and is treatable.

Depression in the elderly is associated with sustained feelings of sadness and loss of self-esteem.  A number of naturally occurring life changes exacerbate an existing condition or could be a risk factor for depression with an elderly person who is otherwise normal. Some examples of changes which could lead to depression are:

• Leaving a home to move to a retirement facility

• Chronic pain or illness

• Moving away of one’s children

• Passing away of a spouse or close friends

• Being dependent on others like in caring for oneself or moving about

Depression could also be caused by physical factors like:

• Parkinson’s disease

• Cancer

• Stroke

• Cardiovascular disease

• Thyroid disorders

• Dementia

• Excessive consumption of alcohol

• Specific medications (especially sleeping aids) could worsen depression

Depression is diagnosed by a healthcare professional after a thorough evaluation. If required the patient might have to undergo a depression screening test.

The condition could be treated with anti-depressant drugs taken under supervision. Simultaneously psychotherapy might also be recommended. Different people react differently to various medications so the psychiatrist might begin by experimenting with drugs or a combination of drugs to determine what is most effective.

To know more about depression in elderly, contact experts of PrimeMedical at 310-548-0201.