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How to recognize depression in old age

Sadness that does not stop. A mood that does not improve. Motivation that does not return. Depression in the elderly has many faces – but it is often misjudged or diminished. The disease can also be treated in the elderly.

Leipzig / Berlin (dpa / tmn) – Who has already been around 60, 70 or 80 years already. This also has a good side: mental resistance is often higher than the younger.

But at the same time, the crisis, the death of one's partner, friends or serious illness accumulate in old age. The result may be depression.

It is a disease that is often underestimated – especially in old age. Doctors and family members often have a long-term depressive mood in older people as a natural reaction.

Often the negative experiences trigger

"In addition, those who have been hit by themselves blame, are exhausted and hopeless and therefore often do not go to a doctor," says prof. Ulrich Hegerl. The specialist for psychiatry, neurology and psychotherapy is the president of the German Foundation for Depression.

Depression can actually be treated in old age, says Iris Hauth, chief physician at Alexianer Berlin-Weissensee. "Then we are discussing depression when symptoms such as drive, satisfaction, and indifference last for at least two weeks," explains psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

"The prerequisite is a suitable predisposition, and sometimes it is added negatively as a trigger," says Hegerl. Illness affects the mind, feelings, and behaviors of those affected and can cause tremendous suffering.

Depression in old age can remind you of dementia

"A sick person's family also plays an important role," said psychologist Christine Sowinski of Kuratorium Deutscher Altershilfe. They should not undermine depressive moods at all. Hauth advises relatives to inquire carefully and definitely about their condition.

However, this also applies to: "There are situations where members meet with their constraints," warns Sowinski. If, for example, a sick person says that he or she wants to commit suicide, relatives should call for urgent help.

The first point of contact for suspicion of depressive disorder is usually a family doctor. In order to find the cause of the symptoms, the first blood tests occur. Depression can sometimes manifest itself in speech disorders and memory in old age, like dementia.

Different Therapy Possibilities

To avoid confusion, ask your doctor. "Depressive patients, for example, can indicate when a patient asks, which date and where they are," says Hegerl.

If evidence of depression is collected, a family physician usually refers you to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. He can then treat the disease with psychotherapy or medication.

"Depending on the severity, both can be combined," says Hauth. Light therapy can also help. And treatment includes physical exercises and regular exercise.