Depression may be an issue for many teens and young adults; but it can also be a dangerous, and often overlooked, problem for the elderly as well. It is not a normal side-effect of aging. While some periods of sadness can occur; deep, medically-diagnosable depression goes further than this.

Why Do Elderly People Experience Depression?

Depression can be caused by a wide variety of factors. Common causes in the elderly can include a loss of independence, the loss of a partner, elder abuse, reclusiveness, overmedication, and medication side effects. Another cause could be receiving a disappointing or life-changing diagnosis. According to the CDC, depression affects roughly 1-5% of the elderly population in America.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications have reported depression as a side effect. These medications include: cardiovascular drugs, chemotherapeutics, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatories, stimulants, hormone drugs, and more. If your loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression while taking one or more of the above medications, they should report this to the prescribing physician.

Symptoms of Depression

Older adults are at risk of misdiagnosis when it comes to depression, because they can be similar to age-related issues. Additionally, symptoms can sometimes be dismissed as side effects of certain medications. Elderly patients can often be more reluctant to open up about their feelings. Also, they may not realize that physical symptoms may be a sign of depression.
Symptoms can vary, but the most common is depressed mood for most of the day, or nearly every day. Furthermore, general loss of interest or pleasure in most activities can be common. Symptoms include persistent sadness, excessive worrying, trouble sleeping, excessive weight changes, poor concentration, pacing/fidgeting, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, and suicide.

Combating Depression in the Elderly

Combating depression is no easy task. Therapy can be an important part of your loved one’s mental health. Therapy, and medication from your loved one’s therapist can be a good start. But, there are some things you can do to help. Spend some time outdoors with your loved one. Even just taking your loved one on mundane errands, like shopping, can help them perk up a bit. Help them visit friends or other family members when and if able. Work with your loved one’s home health aide to ensure that their emotional needs are met, along with the physical.


If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, or call 1-800-273-8255 for support. For more information on depression and its symptoms, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.

Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services has been providing excellent home care on Staten Island since 1967. Our services help the elderly and disabled live safely and independently; while giving their families the peace of mind they need. For more information contact Safe Harbor by clicking here, or call us at (718)-979-6900.