Depression is not a normal part of ageing. Depression is a disease which can be treated and then the sufferer will feel better. Sometimes depression can be mistaken for dementia, so it is very important to recognise and diagnose depression, because the treatments are very different. Older people often suffer from numerous losses and depression can follow loss or the older person may have a long history of depression.
We need a positive approach to treatment for depression. Older people with depression sometimes have many physical symptoms which hide the underlying mood disorder. Treatments can include medications and these should be used confidently at the right dose and for long enough. Counselling is very useful for dealing with bereavements and life changes. Exercise can also be prescribed and this is usually very helpful, especially if done in a group. There is need for education for those caring for older people with depression too. This will help with understanding the disease and de-stigmatising it.
The General Practitioner is a good place to start if you are feeling unhappy or sad for an extended period of time, if you are finding it hard to get going, having difficulty in planning or finding interest in the usual activities, if your sleep is disturbed and appetite has changed and you think there is no joy in life. Remember to take your list of questions and topics you want to discuss when you see the GP.