Increased Depression Risk with Aging

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Increased Depression Risk with Aging


As we get older, we face an increasing number of challenges. Friends, relatives and spouses pass away; retirement may force us to find new purpose in life; we experience more medical issues—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The stress that is generated from all these major life events can further compound into something more lasting, such as depression or other forms of mental illness.

Approximately one in five adults over 55 have a mental health disorder, and 15 to 20 percent of people over 65 experience some level of clinical depression. These numbers are important because people in this age group tend to be more resistant to getting help, and left untreated, depression can profoundly affect quality of life and increase risk of suicide. Depression late in life can also be a sign of dementia.

What to Look for

Remember, depression goes beyond temporary grief or feeling sad. In fact, sadness is often not reported as a primary symptom of those with depression. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from depression, look for the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Increased fatigue
  • Frequent agitation or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and pessimism
  • Persistent aches and pains that aren’t otherwise explained

How to Give and Get Help

If you think you may be depressed, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or a mental health professional. They can help identify symptoms and steer you toward a treatment path that works for you. To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at the Family Center today, call (225) 765-8648, or schedule an appointment with a primary care physician by visiting ololphysiciangroup.com.

If you think a friend or loved one may be depressed, encourage them to seek help, but do so gently. Avoid trigger words like “therapy,” “medication,” or “depression,” since these are often met with opposition. You may consider involving other friends, family members and religious leaders to help intervene as well. Keep in mind that it may take several discussions and involve multiple people before that person is ready to seek help, so don’t give up too quickly.


About Dr. Sudheera Rachamallu

Rachamallu, Sudheera P. Dr. Rachamallu is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry with LSU Health Sciences Center’s Department of Psychiatry and faculty in the LSU-OLOL Psychiatry Residency Program. She currently practices at the Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Family Center.
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