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The Difficulties of Identifying Depression in Older Adults

Antonio Bullon

Dr. Antonio Bullon serves Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Maryland, as an attending psychiatrist. In this position, Dr. Antonio Bullon supports the facility's geriatric population as they deal with issues such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and depression.

Though some individuals may associate depression with teenagers and young adults, the disorder can impact individuals of all ages, including seniors. As is the case with many people suffering from depression, older adults may not notice symptoms of depression when they first appear, or may fail to recognize the symptoms as signs of a more serious medical situation.
Common symptoms of depression in seniors are virtually identical to those in younger individuals, such as a lack of interest in previously enjoyed pastimes and hobbies or persistent feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. However, many older adults view these and related symptoms as a natural part of the aging process. Furthermore, many seniors find themselves in isolated living situations, which can both create depression and exacerbate existing symptoms. It is also not uncommon for the physical signs of depression to go completely unreported, once again being viewed as a natural part of getting older.
The most important thing to remember for seniors potentially struggling with depression is that a person can feel happy and optimistic at any age. Getting older can be physically difficult and emotionally challenging, but anyone dealing with chronic symptoms of depression should discuss their issues with a loved one and a trusted medical professional.

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