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Geriatric Depression: Symptoms and Strategies for Healing

Geriatric Depression

Geriatric depression or depression in the elderly is the result of adults who have been forced to grow accustomed to drastic changes that have taken place in their lives. Some of these changes or events may be the root of depression, a depression that ranges anywhere from mild to severe.

There are some triggers that are most common than others, and they relate to the elderly dependence on social services, a physical disability that is affecting their day-to-day lives, a lack of income or rapid decrease in income, an illness or sickness, the loss of their spouse or a close relative, changing homes, retiring and without activity or feeling lonely.

Geriatric Depression Symptoms

Geriatric depression or depression among the elderly may express common symptoms that relate to excessive fatigue, a lack of interest, worthlessness, emotional and sad expressions, insomnia or sleeping too much, antisocial behavior, and drinking too much or taking too much prescription medication.

There may be dramatic weight loss and suicidal tendencies as well; if it is a psychotic depression then there may be delusional behavior, explanations, and hallucinations are also very common.

It’s common for the elderly to experience clinical depression due to the illnesses that they are diagnosed with or because of the medications that they are prescribed.
  • The elderly may experience insomnia, partly, if they are depressed and as a result of the medication that they are taking. Studies have actually shown that insomnia then encourages depression as a recurrence.
  • Female seniors may feel depressed due to becoming a widow or a lack of support from family. Both male and female seniors may feel depression if their spouse has recently passed away.
  • A lack of support from a family or community is common in initiating feelings of worthlessness and feeling helpless. This will cause stress and can build up a foundation for stress.
  • Physical stress and inability will cause a senior to experience depression. Whether they are diagnosed with diabetes, cancer, or chronic pain - their condition may worsen if their mental state is unhealthy.
  • The degree of medicine that is prescribed to a single senior will affect their mood and is one of the major causes of elderly depression.
  • If there has been a history of depression in the family then it may kick in as does aging.
  • The fear of death will depress the elderly to the point of physical or mental illness. It’s a bit of a domino effect as depression does cause trauma to the body.
  • Living in isolation, and hence feeling alone, brings about depression, especially if the individual doesn’t have any family members around them or any friends to contact.
  • Seniors suffer from substance abuse as brain scans have shown that they are not receiving enough blood flow to certain parts of their brains. If they are partaking in substance abuse then the chemicals that they are consuming into their body will only enhance depression and negative brain activity.

Geriatric Depression: Treatment and Caring

It’s very important for seniors to take part in enough physical activity so that they are naturally boosting their mood and relieving themselves of stagnant depression. Going on a short walk or exercising the dog is enough to help a senior to build strength and keep their mood consistent.

A low-impact walk will also improve their health if they are suffering from a joint problem. Sometimes it’s as easy as providing a senior with a dog or a cat, or getting them involved in an activity to occupy their time and their mindset.

There are many steps that can be taken so that the depression isn’t worsened or prolonged over a certain amount of time. There are multiple treatments that will help you or your relative and it may be the result of a licensed therapy, a life coach, or an antidepressant medication that can be prescribed by a physician.

This type of depression can go on for a long period of time if the symptoms or problems are not acknowledged, or if they are hidden from others.

Hiding the depression will only worsen its severity as time goes by; others will not be aware of the feelings of hopelessness and they may not make as much of an attempt to help the person that is being affected. Many of the symptoms will go on undetected and mistaken for something else: dementia, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, a stroke, thyroid problems, and Alzheimer’s.

Recognize that this depression may also be the result of a certain medication that has been prescribed to you or your relative. Speak to your physician or family physician about the side effects of the medication. Know that you have options when it comes to medication and there are things that you can incorporate into your life so that you can avoid the pessimistic thoughts and feelings that seem to attach themselves to the victim at all times.

To find out whether you or your relative is experiencing Geriatric depression or depression in the elderly there is a test that you can take that will determine whether or not your behavior relates back to this genre of depression. Speak to your counselor, licensed therapist, or doctor about how depression is affecting you, and continue to inform yourself on the ways that you can improve this behavior.

Relaxation Techniques for Depression (and Anxiety) in the Elderly

It may be difficult to accept, but elderly depression is best treated with true drug-less schemes. In as much as anti-depressants can help maintain the hormonal balance of the body it is not sufficient to fully put an end to elderly depression alone. More change is needed in his or her psyche so he can gain confidence, self-worth, and purpose.

Yoga is one of the best types of relaxation techniques for the treatment of elderly depression. It is perfect for the elderly because the forms can be very gentle yet enough to help free your mind from different worries and anxieties which result in elderly depression.

It also helps relieve the body from physical discomforts, pains, and disorders which reduces your risks of suffering from other types of bodily ailments.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing helps improve the bodily circulation of an individual. It allows nutrients to properly flow to your lungs, blood, cells, and organs. It is also sufficient to help relax your mind and free it from negative thoughts. In a way, it helps replace it with more positive ones which are effective in treating elderly depression.

How is it done? Focus your attention on deep breathing. Feel the air entering your lungs and release negative energies from your body when you exhale. Constantly repeat this routine at a minimum of three times a day or whenever you feel the need to release negative energies. It will keep your mind positive and erase signs of elderly depression.


Cognitive Therapy only has two thumbs up for meditative treatment for elderly depression. The most acknowledged form is the Buddhist-style meditation referred to as mindfulness meditation. Those who have tried this kind of approach attest to the fact that it has greatly helped them be relieved from depression. Furthermore, it is enough to hinder depression from ever coming back. Read more in detail here on → Relaxation Meditation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a relaxation technique that was developed by Edmund Jacobson and involves tight-fisting techniques and simultaneous hand flexes from the hand upward to the fist as a form of treatment against depression. Although it remains to be proven and acknowledged by many as an effective treatment for elderly depression, those who have tried it are glad they did because they have managed to regain their previous happiness and satisfaction in life.

There may be other drug-less methods which can you may try. You may even use Tai Chi and other forms of exercise. You can learn a new hobby so your mind will be preoccupied with more productive activities.

Socialize with other elders and keep yourself busy. Never wander on things that will only bring you sadness. Keep and maintain a positive mind and this is enough to say goodbye to elderly depression for good.


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