Daily Herald American Heart Association
Depression in later life
Depression affects more than 19 million Americans every year, regardless of age, race, or gender. While depression is not a normal part of the aging process, there is a strong likelihood of it occurring when other physical health conditions are present.

Did you know?

Nearly a quarter of the 600,000 people who experience a stroke in a given year will experience clinical depression.

More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.

Symptoms of clinical depression can be triggered by other chronic illnesses common in later life, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

One-third of widows/widowers meet criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse, and half of these individuals remain clinically depressed after one year.

Suicide

Depression is a significant predictor of suicide in elderly Americans.

Comprising only 13 percent of the U.S. population, individuals aged 65 and older account for 20 percent of all suicide deaths, with white males being particularly vulnerable.

Suicide among white males aged 85 and older (65.3 deaths per 100,000 persons) is nearly six times the suicide rate (10.8 per 100,000) in the U.S.

Older adult attitudes toward depression:

According to a Mental Health America survey on attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression:

Approximately 68 percent of adults aged 65 and over know little or almost nothing about depression.

Only 38 percent of adults aged 65 and over believe that depression is a “health” problem.

If suffering from depression, older adults are more likely than any other group to “handle it themselves.” Only 42 percent would seek help from a health professional.

Signs of depression are mentioned more frequently by people under age 64 than people aged 65 and over. These include a change in eating habits, a change in sleeping habits and sadness. About 58 percent of people aged 65 and older believe that it is “normal” for people to get depressed as they grow older.

Other resources:

Contact Mental Health America of Illinois at (312) 368-9070, Ext.10, or visit www.mhai.org. Contact your treating physician or local community mental health center for additional resources.

Mental Health of Illinois’ Campaign for America’s Mental Health works to raise awareness that mental illnesses are common, real and treatable illnesses and ensure that those most at-risk receive proper, timely and effective treatment.

 

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