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Late Life Depression | It Isn’t Too Late to Be Happy Again

Late Life Depression: It Isn’t Too Late to Be Happy Again


Depression affects the lives of millions of people across the planet. In the United States, it is estimated that a staggering 34 million are suffering from its symptoms. The number of depressed young people may still outnumber older adults currently, but this is shifting. As more and more baby boomers become seniors, they may fall victim to the challenges of depression.

It is important to remember that depression is not an integral aspect of aging, although some believe it is.  Nonetheless, there is an increasing vulnerability in the populace as adults advance in years. If you are in this stage and you feel gripped with sadness, hopelessness and helplessness, it is important to remember that depression is a real, treatable condition. It is possible to bounce back and be happy again with the right kind of help.


Risks and Vulnerability

Certain people are at risk for depression because of genetic predisposition, brain injuries, and/or having gone through traumatic life events. If you are an older adult, you may also be susceptible because of circumstances that are not your fault. Why might you be vulnerable to late-life depression?

You may be struggling with a neurodegenerative, physically debilitating or some other chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.”  Living alone, struggling with the “empty nest syndrome,” and financial troubles can also bring about extra challenges.

Considering the challenging circumstances, older adults may also run the risk of keeping their troubles to themselves.  If you continue to perceive your everyday “blues,” insomnia, social withdrawal, etc. as “part of life,” your symptoms may not be assessed properly, and your condition addressed in the right way.

Without diagnosis and treatment, a late-onset depression may lead to complications, – diminished quality of life, decreased functioning, worsening of symptoms and development of other emotional conditions.  Some of the co-occurring disorders that may complicate your depression are anxiety, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and chronic medical conditions.


Late-life Depression: What is it?

According to Aziz and Steffens (2013), Depression in older adults can have a variety of presentations.”  If you had an early onset depression (EOD), it can recur in your late life.  Possibly due to excessive triggers, it can also appear later in the form of “late-onset depression” (LOD).  It may likewise develop secondarily to a general medical condition, medication or substance abuse.

There is no definite, collective agreement or description of what may constitute “clinically significant depression.”  Based on the criteria contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, the diagnosis is “minor depression or subthreshold depression” when there are one to three additional symptoms observed along with the core symptom of depression. It can be classified as a major depression if there is a weighty “front striatal dysfunction.”

“Front striatal dysfunction can be diagnosed using clinical/neuropathologic and neuroimaging methods. This dysfunction, also dubbed as “depression–executive dysfunction syndrome,” may result to indications, such as “reduced verbal fluency, impaired visual naming, paranoia, loss of interest in activities, and psychomotor retardation…” The syndrome may also be accompanied by psychomotor retardation, further disabilities, poor response to treatment, recurrence and relapse.


Late-life Depression: How Would You Know

Recognizing the symptoms of late-life depression is critical to get prompt diagnosis and start the treatment. Unfortunately, older adults are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and therefore untreated or undertreated. This is because the symptoms may be thought of as usual responses or behaviors in seniors. This can be a reason why you may not seek professional help.

Be careful not to fall into this trap. Sadness is its hallmark symptom, but you may not necessarily exhibit it. Like many older adults, you could be living on your own and have gotten used to being alone. You may also think that you have “mellowed” through the years and that you now feel more “settled.” The signs and symptoms may vary from those being usually experienced by younger people. Be vigilant because geriatric depression can be incapacitating and even dangerous.

Be aware that the symptoms may be “non-specific.” If you are experiencing the symptoms for more than two to three weeks, now may be the time to seek help.  If it is longer than that, there may be more to it, which is why it’s important to act when you first realize you may not be yourself. What symptoms should you be aware?


 Symptoms of geriatric depression:


  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment


How Can You Be Happy Again?

Late-life depression can be very cunning and misleading, resulting in your focusing on the gloom that may be present instead of the many reasons to be grateful.  Take note, that without diagnosis and the right treatment, issues can worsen. Your distress can deepen and develop into physical and medical complications, substance abuse, and other emotional conditions.  Despite the darkness that may be engulfing you, know that there is hope and help.

As with early-onset depression, late-life depression can be treated too.  The help of a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks, can be the help you’re looking for, because it’s never too late to be happy and break the symptoms of late-life depression.  Give yourself the gift of feeling positive, hopeful and full of zest again.  You can rediscover the many reasons to enjoy the adventure of your life as an older adult.

By rediscovering a new life after geriatric depression you can experience the contentment you deserve. A positive outlook can bring you more happiness and discover you have plenty of reasons to smile again!  Call Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

Credit cards:  


Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
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Cameron, NC 28326

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Fayetteville, NC 28311

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