I suffer from debilitating depression, and so do 7 million other adults over the age of 65 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC.) My depression is caused by genetics and brain chemistry I take medicine for it every day and the medicine helps, but not enough to make me feel normal, but enough to function as long as there are no stressors to add to my depression. Not only is depression an epidemic among older adults so is suicide, 16% of suicide deaths are older adults. These numbers are staggering.
Depression among my peers is caused by many factors genetics, brain chemistry, and personal history of depression, stress, vascular stiffness, medications and other illnesses. The brain is both fragile and strong but for me the genetics gave way to early personal history of depression that imprinted itself in my brain and now my brain chemistry says depression. It has become a part of me just like my eye color or the shape of my face.
Depression is more than just feeling sad it is a hopeless emptiness that lasts. The clinical signs of depression according to National Institute of Health (NIH) are;
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness, or having trouble sitting still
- Loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, including sex
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Eating more or less than usual, usually with unplanned weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease with treatment
- Frequent crying
Having two or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks are a red flag and you should see your doctor who may recommend you meet with a mental health specialist.
Having depression isn’t a life sentence. I take medication, but there are other remedies including talk therapy, and behavioral therapy these will help you work through the issues that may be making you feel sad and change your thought patterns.
It’s easier to prevent depression than it is to cure depression. Exercise can release hormones into the brain that can boost the mood. Having a good support system and avoiding isolation is also good for boosting the mood. Another way to release mood boosting hormones into the brain is to laugh so watching a funny movie or listening to your favorite comedian can help you avoid depression.
If you feel like you are depressed please see a doctor the sooner you start repairing your mood the better for your brain. Long bouts with depression can lead to brain changes and physical changes. If you are feeling suicidal please contact
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (toll-free/24 hours a day)
Depression and suicide are serious health epidemics in the US and they don’t need to be. We need to be vigilant of our moods and careful about attitudes toward those who need our help. Ostracizing or making someone with depression feel set aside or different from their normal self can actually make matters worse for them, so make them feel normal and ask how you can help someone who has depression they may open up and talk with you. You may be the one that saves a life.