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Depression and the Elderly - Signs and Symptoms


Clinical depression in the elderly is common but that doesn't mean it's normal. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. The elderly often display symptoms of depression differently than younger people. Depression in the elderly is sometimes confused with the effects of chronic illnesses and medications used to treat them. Depression in the elderly is tied to a higher risk of cardiac diseases and death from illness and can reduce the person's ability to rehabilitate. Primary doctors are routinely encouraged to check for depression during chronic illness or wellness visits.


Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Irritability

  • Confusion

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Chronic aches and pains

  • Hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt

  • Change in weight or appetite

  • Move more slowly

  • Difficulty paying attention

  • Not enjoying activities they used to enjoy

  • Isolation

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