Symptoms of Depression in Seniors: Are They Different?


Depression can affect anyone at any age, and it has a well-defined set of symptoms. However, the symptoms in seniors are slightly different. The overall pattern of depression symptoms is similar at any age, but elderly depression symptoms can be evident in different ways. It is important to be aware of the symptoms so you can spot the signs and get treatment right away.

Symptoms of Depression in Seniors

When people suffer from depression, they experience different kinds of changes, such as mood changes, changes in motivation levels, and physical changes. However, in seniors the symptoms look slightly different.

Changes in mood

  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Pessimism
  • Guilt
  • Worthlessness
  • Helplessness

Irritability and/or restlessness: The feeling that you are not able to relax to do an activity or feeling irritable about things that normally wouldn’t bother you.

Changes in appetite and/or weight: When food does not taste as good as it used to, including food that you have enjoyed in the past might not taste as good.

Decrease in energy: You might feel less energetic and too tired to do even small chores and tasks.

Cognitive changes: You may have a harder time making decisions, concentrating on chores, and remembering details.

Changes in sleeping patterns: It may be more difficult for you to fall asleep, or you might wake up earlier than normal.

Physical ailments: Aches and pains, headaches, muscle tension and cramps, or digestive problems

Loss of interest in staying active: You might notice you no longer have an interest in hobbies or other activities. You may also become less interested in communicating or socializing with friends and family.

Hard time keeping up with personal hygiene and/or housework: This is more about lack of motivation and not because you are not able to physically do it. For instance, you might intend to brush your teeth or do laundry; however, those things just don’t get done.

Be Aware: Some Symptoms May Be Overlooked

Depression affects almost 1 in every 20 adults over 50, so it isn’t uncommon. However, many seniors with depression go untreated because most of the time, elderly depression symptoms are not viewed for what they are.

Symptoms including a decrease in sleep and appetite, physical complaints, and changes in thinking are overlooked quite often. Families, caregivers, and even seniors themselves automatically believe these symptoms go along with aging. However, this is not the case at all. There are many seniors who see a decrease in their physical health and cognitive abilities. This regularly occurs because of aging, and few seniors do not experience these symptoms; however, experiencing these changes because of depression is not normal.

Just because older people experience depression symptoms does not mean they should be overlooked. Some individuals do go through these changes as they become older, but that does not mean they are the outcome of getting older.

If you are a senior experiencing depression symptoms, know that you are not alone. Just because you are aging does not mean you have to suffer. There are solutions that can help you live your everyday life the way you want to. One of those solutions is transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. This is an alternative to taking prescribed medications that may have side effects. If you are interested in learning more about TMS, contact GatewayTMS at (314) 909-8487. We take pride in helping people overcome depression and getting back to doing what makes them happy.