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
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.
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
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
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.
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.